Protest over £1billion town

ANGRY villagers last night stepped up their protests against a planned £1 billion town which they fear will destroy the “charm and tranquillity” of their homes forever.

ANGRY villagers last night stepped up their protests against a planned £1 billion town which they fear will destroy the “charm and tranquillity” of their homes forever.

Campaigners say the Watermark development, earmarked for a 215-hectare site between Red Lodge and Kentford, near Mildenhall, will create intolerable extra traffic in five historic villages.

Last night, they took their fight direct to the headquarters of Forest Heath District Council, staging a protest ahead of a planning meeting where the 5,000-home development was to be discussed.

But those masterminding the plans, which have been endorsed by five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, have urged members of the Five Villages Preservation Trust to allow the democratic process to decide on the project's future.

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“We are staging this protest to show the strength of feeling against these proposals,” said Trevor Tyrrell, deputy chairman of the Five Villages Preservation Trust.

“We need to show the councillors and the developers that we will not accept anything less than these plans going through the correct process, even if it means a public inquiry.

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“What we have here is five historic villages that will see their charm and tranquility destroyed if these plans go ahead, and we are not prepared to accept that.

“We have received information that the Watermark development would create an extra 20,000 vehicle movements a day in all five villages, and that just does not bear thinking about.”

Earlier this week, the EADT exclusively revealed 3,000 jobs would be created by the development, which will incorporate pubs, churches, doctors' surgeries and schools, an eco-centre and facilities for extreme sports.

The town would be served by a new junction on the A14 and will form a futuristic, environmentally-friendly “sustainable” community served by a series of artificial lakes and waterways, with a new network of cycle paths, walkways, nature trails and village greens.

The plans have provoked huge controversy since they were first mooted earlier this year. However, developers Orion Land and Leisure have described the project as “first class”.

A spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the local residents do not appear to want to allow the Watermark proposals to go through the formal statutory planning processes and to be considered against planning policy by democratically-elected councillors.

“It is very early in the process for these proposals and an awful lot of discussion and consultation is timed to go through before even a planning application is lodged.

“These proposals are absolutely first class in terms of what they deliver and the team which has been involved in putting them together. They are not ill thought out, are extremely well considered and have called on world leaders in their respective fields in terms of input.

“We are disappointed the residents are trying to stifle a democratic debate on these proposals at this extremely early stage in the process.

“Would it not be better to allow full details to be aired in a wide public arena, giving everyone the opportunity to discuss them and consider their merits before democratically-elected councillors?”

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