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Crowds swell to march against 150 home development

PUBLISHED: 15:23 20 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:31 20 January 2019

The people from Long Melford who took part in the Save Our Skylark Fields march. Picture: RICHARD MICHETTE

The people from Long Melford who took part in the Save Our Skylark Fields march. Picture: RICHARD MICHETTE

Archant

Up to 200 people took part in a march through a picturesque Suffolk village to protest against plans for 150 new homes as campaigners bid to increase their pressure on the developers and call for more donations to fight an appeal.

The people from Long Melford on the Save Our Skylark Fields march. Picture: RICHARD MICHETTEThe people from Long Melford on the Save Our Skylark Fields march. Picture: RICHARD MICHETTE

Young and old attended the Save Our Skylark Fields (SOS) walk through Long Melford on Sunday as part of their growing campaign to oppose an application from Gladman to build a new housing development on land off Station Road.

The controversial development has faced much opposition from the community and the parish council, with residents citing infrastructure issues and lack of need.

Babergh District Council’s planning committee unanimously voted to refuse the plans at a hearing in December – but Gladman lodged an appeal prior to that hearing on the grounds that Babergh went over the stated timeframe for the application.

This means the final decision will lie with the planning inspector, with a date now set for June 25.

People from Long Melford gather at the village hall after taking part  in the Save Our Skylark Fields march. Picture: RICHARD MICHETTEPeople from Long Melford gather at the village hall after taking part in the Save Our Skylark Fields march. Picture: RICHARD MICHETTE

The protest march against the development started from the SOS banner on the corner of Roman Way at 10am before heading to the village hall for updates and speeches.

And despite the cold weather crowds flocked to the meeting point as the march set off which culminated in speeches and a question and answer session.

Lisa Tipper, the chairman of the SOS group, said: “It was a great occasion and I think we had over 200 people turn up. It was cold so a few failed to attend but we had teas and coffees at the village hall along with the speeches.

“We do feel that we have the majority of the village behind us. We are not anti housing as our neighbourhood plan has identified sites for development but we feel that this site is not just for 150 homes as it could open up to 1,000 homes.

“We are doing this for the future of Long Melford and it certainly generated a lot of local support.”

She said Ian Mackenzie, former chairman of Hands Off Steeple Bumpstead, a village group which successfully defeated Gladman’s application for 65 new homes in 2017, gave a “brilliant” speech and reassured villagers that they can win their fight over the development.

And Jonathan Ewbank, one of the neighbourhood plan team, also updated those present on the current plan while Richard Kemp, county, district and parish councillor, also spoke.

Campaigners also collected funds amounting to over £620 which has pushed the total amount to nearly £10,000 to pay for costs associated with fighting the developer.

A number of other fundraising events have been planned including a quiz night at the Royal British Legion on Friday, February 8, and councillor John Nunn has sponsored the hire of the building.

While the village cricket club has make its headquarters available which could be the venue for a barbeque or cheese and wine evening later in the year.

“We need at least £20,000 and the more people give, the more we can fight it,” added Lisa.

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