United villagers say no to home plans

VILLAGERS have voiced their “strong and complete” opposition to a proposal estimated to almost triple the size of their community.70 residents of Ashen near Sudbury gave their views at a tempestuous meeting of Ashen Parish Council on Saturday morning.

Will Clarke

VILLAGERS have voiced their “strong and complete” opposition to a proposal estimated to almost triple the size of their community.

70 residents of Ashen near Sudbury gave their views at a tempestuous meeting of Ashen Parish Council on Saturday morning.

Many feared Braintree District Council's local development framework, which contained four housing developments around Ashen, would result in 228 homes around a village of currently consisting of only 120 houses.

Catherine Carpenter, senior planner with Braintree stressed the proposals had not come from them but had been submitted by developers and landowners at the earliest planning stage.

She said: “Our core strategy is focused on developing the main towns. At the moment we are assessing the land available within mainly our towns as well as some other possible sites.

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“The government has asked us to build 290 homes across the region, which is less than in the past so we probably won't need to develop small villages.

“Ashen then probably won't have to face 228 homes. It is unlikely the council would support such a proposal and I don't think developers would be able to put forward a strong case for it.”

Robin Purchas, chairman of Ashen council, said: “It was a very good meeting very well attended. It was plain there was strong and complete opposition to proposals, in particular, for the airfield used by the gliding club.

“The gliding club were represented and they confirmed they had no intention of pursuing the issue. As far as the other three sites went there were views against and those less who found them less objectionable.”

Mr Purchas said the council itself had not decided on its view but stressed they weren't opposed to development in principle.

He said there was pace for “modest, organic growth”, alongside a programme to develop the sustainability of the community by providing better public facilities.

Stephen Norris, who lives close to the village, and owns some of the land where the proposed houses might be, said local people needed to consider allowing Ashen to develop.

He said: “I believe the community would benefit significantly as a whole from better facilities that give a focus to the village and strengthen the village community spirit. As a result of these issues I believe there is an opportunity to consider a mixed development of affordable and market housing, which could include facilities for the village.”

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