Great Cornard: Homes plans likened to a ‘prison camp’

Looking down at the area where Thomas Gainsborough's famous painting of Cornard Wood was created.

Looking down at the area where Thomas Gainsborough's famous painting of Cornard Wood was created.

A PROPOSED 170-home development in an area that featured in two of Gainsborough’s masterpieces has been slammed as “insensitive” and “like a prison camp”.

An application by Persimmon Homes to build on part of a 31-acre site east of Carsons Drive in Great Cornard was rejected unanimously by officers and councillors at a Babergh District Council planning meeting yesterday. The scheme was described as one of the “most objected to” plans ever to be considered by the local authority.

Land around the development, which would have included 60 affordable houses and 323 car parking spaces, is believed to feature in the paintings Cornard Woods and Mr and Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough. The site is also close to the 13th-Century Grade I listed Abbas Hall.

The application, which included a mix of two-storey properties, bungalows and flats, was originally due to be determined in May 2010 but a legal challenge by a resident on environmental grounds led to intervention by the Government and a judicial review in the High Court.

Case officer Graham Chamber-lain told the planning committee the scheme should be rejected on a long list of grounds, including the possible impact on the special landscape setting and the “poor quality” of the layout and design.

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But Persimmon Homes planning consultant Ray Ricks criticised the officer’s report, which he said did not provide any “balance” and he told councillors the scheme would help meet local housing needs and support the local economy.

Committee chairman and Cornard member Peter Beer condemned the proposed house and garage designs for looking like a “prison block”.

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He added: “We are open for business at Babergh and we do need more houses in Cornard but the days of saying ‘anything goes’ in Cornard are gone. We need to have good design and if the developers think this is good design, they are on another planet.

“We have to be realistic but so do Persimmon. They need to have meaningful discussions with council officers, pick up lots of points that the public are not happy with and make sure that they improve on them.”

Another Cornard councillor Mark Newman went a step further and asked for site to be removed from the local plan. He added: “I have lived in Cornard for 53 years and this is one of the worst changes I have seen. The development is in the wrong place and this sensitive area should never have been made a brownfield site in the first place.”

After the meeting, Mr Ricks told the EADT: “We will be talking to officers about the options that are available to us. However, it is too early at this stage to say how we will move forward.”

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