Villagers fight huge housing plan

By John HowardVILLAGERS campaigning to stop developers turning their green fields into a huge housing estate have demanded a public inquiry into the project.

By John Howard

VILLAGERS campaigning to stop developers turning their green fields into a huge housing estate have demanded a public inquiry into the project.

More than 170 people have signed a petition opposing a plan for up to 600 homes in the countryside.

Mid Suffolk District Council's executive committee considered the petition yesterday, but the authority has not yet come to a decision on the homes proposal.


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The residents are campaigning against the homes planned for land between Chilton Fields on the edge of Stowmarket and the neighbouring village of Onehouse.

They fear their community could become a suburb of Stowmarket if the development goes ahead and they would lose their rural identity.

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The protest was sparked after housebuilder George Wimpey UK said it wanted Mid Suffolk District Council to zone the land for housing in the Local Plan.

That is the planning blueprint for the next 10 years and is currently being reviewed by the district council, with the authority considering developers “land bids” to earmark areas for housing or employment.

Even if land is included in the Local Plan, developers would still need to submit planning applications for the land.

Sara Michell, deputy leader of the council, said: “The council's position on the George Wimpey bid will not be determined until the summer.

“The public will have the chance to make further representations and the draft Local Plan will be published in October this year.

“There could then be a public inquiry during 2005. This will be very, very seriously considered and thought about, and there will be a lot of chances for consultation and the council will listen.”

Arlene Cruickshanks, chairman of Onehouse Parish Council, which organised the petition, said: “A public inquiry is what we want, everyone in the village would appreciate that. I'm really pleased the council is taking this so seriously.”

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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