Villagers in Long Melford want controversial former Fleetwood caravan factory site to be used for employment

Fleetwood Caravans in Long Melford

Fleetwood Caravans in Long Melford

A controversial development site in the centre of a historic west Suffolk village should be used to create jobs or a retirement community, the results of an independent survey suggest.

The findings of the questionnaire asking people in Long Melford what they would like the former Fleetwood Caravans site to be used for have just been released.

Last year, a protest group was set up to fight plans by David Wilson Homes to build 51 homes on the former factory site. The plans were thrown out by Babergh’s planning committee on the grounds of pedestrian safety - a decision that was subsequently upheld by the secretary of state following an appeal and three-day public inquiry.

The survey commissioned by Babergh councillors John Nunn and Richard Kemp, which went to all households via the parish magazine, asked if people would prefer the site to be used for employment, private homes, mixed housing including affordable homes to buy or rent, or a retirement home.

Out of the 264 responses received, nearly two thirds of respondents favoured either employment use or a retirement complex, with less than 4% choosing privately owned homes, which was the least popular option.

Reasons cited for job creation included encouraging young local business people, keeping trade in the community and preventing Long Melford from becoming a dormitory village. Business or retail units, workshops and light industry were the suggestions most frequently cited.

Around 17% of those who responded to the survey said they would support mixed housing including affordable homes for local people to buy. One respondent said: “We need young people to stay in our village - a good balance of young and older (people) to carry on and keep the village alive.”

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Other suggestions including relocating the doctors’ surgery or creating a central village car park are likely to be dismissed because of the problems with access and pedestrian safety.

The survey results have just been sent to parish, district and county councils and the developers SB2 Living – a family company run by Tim and James Struth.

Mr Nunn said the developers had not yet had a chance to respond to the survey results but he hoped they would “take the views of 264 villagers on board”.

He added: “I’m not surprised by the results. A lot of people would like to see a retirement complex on that site, which could also free up other houses in the village.”

Mr Kemp said the good response to the survey proved how important the site was to the village.

He added: “At the end of the day, developers don’t develop a site unless they can turn a profit.

“They have carried out their own (online) consultation but we hope they will take ours into consideration to come up with a proposal that suits both the access and the general wishes of Long Melford.

“The good response (to the survey) shows how important this site is to the village.”

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