Protesters set to descend on 170 homes meeting

Campaigners have been called to arms ahead of a public meeting to discuss a planning application in Great Cornard.

A COUNCIL fear a meeting about plans to build 170 homes in a Suffolk village is set to be sabotaged by a swell of protesters furious about the development.

A call to arms has been made ahead a public meeting in Great Cornard tonight<16.03> over an application to turn a vista immortalised on canvas by the great Thomas Gainsborough into a ‘concrete jungle’.

It is believed more than 300 people, mostly protesters, could descend on the council offices in the village to make their feelings heard - more than twice the number the Stevenson Centre can physically hold.

Meanwhile, a leading west Suffolk political figure has claimed the application by Persimmon Homes - east of Carson Drive - should never have got this far after he and others were “barred” from a crucial vote to allocate the land for homes. John Sayers, a Great Cornard Parish councillor as well as a district, town and county councillor for Sudbury, is furious Babergh blocked him from a meeting to decide the local plan - a key document in determining the future use of land.

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The storm surrounding the application in Great Cornard is set to come to a crescendo tonight, with police confirming they will be in attendance.

“People have come in saying ‘can I have another 300 flyers and deliver them door-to-door’ and I am thinking ‘good heavens!’,” said Michael Fitt, the council manager at Great Cornard, “I just get a horrible feeling a lot of people are being whipped up to come to the meeting under a misapprehension of what can be achieved.”

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The public meeting has been called by Great Cornard Parish Council to give residents a chance to voice their views before sending a response to Babergh District Council - the planning authority who will determine it.

Mr Fitt said: “If we just dealt with it at our planning meeting on Monday they (residents) cannot speak and they would feel cheated but I just feel a little concerned the misapprehension people might be under about what can be achieved at this meeting. We have to respond to Babergh District Council on planning grounds and want to hear the views of constituents in Great Cornard before we do so. I just hope it does not get out of hand.”

He added the meeting was called following the controversy, alluded to by Mr Sayers, surrounding the land depicted in Gainsborough’s masterpieces Cornard Wood and Mr and Mrs Andrews, being allocated for building.

Sylvia Byham, a Sudbury town councillor who lives in Great Cornard, said: “I think the most famous son of Sudbury, Gainsborough, would turn in his grave a thousand times.

“The people in Ballingdon should watch the land at Ballingdon Hill - that will be next.”

The meeting will take place from 7pm tonight with council chairman Humphrey Todd in the chair and inviting residents to speak out about their views. No time limit has been set to allow as many people to speak as possible. Plans will be up in the Stevenson Centre all day for the public to view.

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