Twin boost for villages

By Patrick Lowman and Liz HearnshawA RUN-down shopping arcade on the edge of a housing estate blighted by vandalism and anti-social behaviour is to be demolished and rebuilt.

By Patrick Lowman and Liz Hearnshaw

A RUN-down shopping arcade on the edge of a housing estate blighted by vandalism and anti-social behaviour is to be demolished and rebuilt.

The multi-million-pound development package for the Poplar Road shops in Great Cornard has been drawn up by Babergh District Council in an effort to overcome social problems in the area.

A survey has revealed almost half the residents living in the area were too afraid to leave their homes after dark and many said they were reluctant to use the shops due to the gangs of youths that often congregated there at night.


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The shopping arcade was built in the 1970s, but the whole scheme is now deemed outdated and run-down.

Under the proposed redevelopment, the shops will be demolished and replaced by 31 new homes, which will be run by Flagship Housing Association.

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A new row of stores - including a hairdresser's, a convenience store and a fish and chip shop - with 12 one-bedroom flats above will be built on the car park at the back of the existing shops.

Babergh District Council planning officers are now working with architects to draw up the final details of the scheme, which will also include cycleways, landscaping and a community hall.

It will be built in two phases to ensure none of the businesses have to close while the work takes place, with construction due to start in 2005 and be completed within two years.

Humphrey Todd, vice-chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council, said: “This is an excellent scheme for Great Cornard and it will really enhance the village.

“The area has become a crime hot-spot and has been a problem for a number of years and we are all very concerned about it. The aim of the scheme is to design out opportunities to commit crime.

“At the moment the area is very outdated and it is very easy to conceal criminal activities, but this new scheme will help us move forward and enable to village to get rid of one of its main problem areas.”

The scheme is due to go before Babergh District Council's planning committee in October.

Meanwhile, a long-awaited dream to transform a village with a multi-million-pound redevelopment is becoming a reality after work on the project began.

Contractors have moved on to a site in Red Lodge, near Mildenhall, to dig foundations for the roadways that will link the new development to the existing village.

Although planning applications relating to many of the new homes planned for the village have yet to be decided, residents are heralding the appearance of the bulldozers as a breakthrough in the scheme - which has been on the drawing board for about two decades.

Parish councillor Betty Duncan, whose husband Allan, a Forest Heath district councillor, fought tirelessly to see the development take shape prior to his death earlier this year, said: “This is a step forward.

“Allan would have been very pleased. The development is what he wanted and he fought very hard for it.”

Sally Rode, spokeswoman for Forest Heath District Council, said: “Crest Nicholson has started infrastructure work to serve their residential development at Red Lodge.

“The formal planning permission has not yet been issued, but the council is working with Crest Nicholson to resolve the issue.

“It is open to the council to take formal enforcement action, however, we believe negotiation is the best way forward and Crest Nicholson have been responsive to this approach.”

When the long-term project is completed, Red Lodge will more than double in size as about 1,600 extra homes are built.

However, discussions are still continuing over the potential site for a new school, which was to be constructed in Turnpike Road until a rare species of wasp was discovered in the area in December 2002.

English Nature is now considering applying for the area to be designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest to protect the cerceris quinquefasciata species against development.

The move would force the school to a new site in Warren Road, away from the village centre. But residents fear this could split Red Lodge in two, separating the old from the new.

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