Hadleigh: Plans to build on park cause angry response

PLANS to build houses on a popular public park in Hadleigh have provoked an angry response from residents and town councillors.

Babergh District Council intends to develop the former putting green of the Grade II listed East House in George Street, which is part of an area known as Cox’s Park.

The district authority recently unveiled a proposal to turn the 17th-Century property into flats. It has also released plans to build four detached houses on land that includes the East House car park, and land to the rear of the property, which is currently used as public open space.

Hadleigh resident Jonas Grist said many people in the town were unaware Babergh’s development plans would lead to the loss of valued parkland. But a Babergh spokesman said the putting green immediately behind East House was never part of the original public park.

Meanwhile, the town council’s planning committee chair Penny Cook said they were disappointed Babergh had not consulted them before releasing the plans.

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Speaking after a committee meeting, Councillor Cook said: “We reluctantly agreed to back the application to develop East House because we recognise that it is probably now the only thing that can be done with the place.

“However, the second application to build four houses – one on the garden and car park and another three on a piece of land behind known as the putting green – we have rejected.

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“We have also made our feelings known to Babergh and have forwarded the many letters of objection we have received from concerned residents.”

Mr Grist, who lives in Edwin Panks Road, said it was significant the proposal had been advertised during the school holidays, adding: “I think most people know about the plans to develop East House but they seem totally unaware that the council is intending to build executive homes on the park outside East House.

“Hadleigh is expanding, but every bit of open space is being eroded, which isn’t serving current or future generations very well. Selling the building is one thing but selling green space is outrageous.”

Although East House and the new homes are being considered as two separate applications, a Babergh spokesman said: “It is true that our consultants have made it clear that the conversion of East House alone is not a viable proposition. The inclusion of the previous putting green makes for a more viable development opportunity.”

In its proposal, Babergh has offered a piece of land next to Pykenham Place as a ‘land-swap’. The site, which was a former district authority depot is much smaller than Cox’s Park and is at least a mile away from the current site.

However, the Babergh spokesman said: “We believe that the proposed enhancement of land at Calais Street which adjoins the current park there is a reasonable swap for the old East House putting green, especially since the continued expansion of Hadleigh northwards has meant that there is a greater need for park space at this location than previously.”

He added that all responses to the public consultation which ends on September 10 - including any representations from local people - would be taken into account and considered fully.

The plans are likely to be determined by Babergh’s development committee in November.

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