More than one thousand sign petition to save Combs field from development

Historic England has objected to the development on the grounds the significance of St Mary's Church

Historic England has objected to the development on the grounds the significance of St Mary's Church may be diminished Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Concerned residents keen to preserve a treasured green space in a village near Stowmarket have rallied together to oppose a housing development on the site.

A campaign group fighting a proposal to build 160 homes on a field in Combs has gathered more than 1,500 signatures opposing the development.

The campaign, known as ‘Save Mill Mount Field’, was organised to raise awareness in the Combs Ford and Combs Village area after a planning application outlining a major housing developent was referred to planners at Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC).

Submitted by Cheshire-based Property Developers Gladman Land in June 2018, the application proposed 160 dwellings to be built on agricultural land between Combs Ford and Combs Village at the top of Poplar Hill – historically known as Mill Mount Field.

The site forms part of a locally cherished landscape and provides a view of the Grade I listed St Mary’s Church, Combs.

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In a statement published on the Combs Village website, it is claimed that there are “many issues of local concern” regarding the application, including “the marring of this special landscape and increased traffic congestion”.

A community network set up to provide a focus for the issues and further explore the impact on local communities has since appealed for donations to create road signage opposing the development – with £100 gathered to date.

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The application, validated by the council on June 4, has attracted 226 comments on the MSDC website, with residents from across the Combs and Stowmarket area objecting to the proposal.

Among the opposers was Historic England, which argued that the proposed scheme would have a “harmful impact” on the significance of St Mary’s Church – adding that the development does not meet the requirements of the National Planning Police Framework.

The Suffolk Preservation Society also objected to the plans, writing: “The Society considers that the environmental harm associated with this proposal; impacting on the landscape character, views and wider setting of the church and erosion of the gap between the town and village of Combs are of such a magnitude that they materially outweigh the public benefits of contributing to housing supply in the district and therefore this application should be refused.”

In another report opposing the development, Combs Parish Council urged planners to refuse the application on the grounds that it was not sustainable – arguing that it posed a risk of traffic congestion on Poplar Hill and could blur the boundaries between Combs and Stowmarket.

A spokesperson for MSDC said all planning committee meetings were open to the public, and residents were welcome to submit any comments supporting or opposing the development by searching for the application reference DC/18/02380 on the council website.

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