Villagers rally against development
THE heart could be ripped out of the picturesque coastal village of Thorpeness if a development gets the go-ahead, it has been claimed.Residents fighting plans to build three terraced houses with private gardens on the site of the gallery and coffee shop say losing the outside seating area in the middle of Thorpeness will take away one of the main reasons for tourists' visits and continue its decline into a dormitory coastal village.
THE heart could be ripped out of the picturesque coastal village of Thorpeness if a development gets the go-ahead, it has been claimed.
Residents fighting plans to build three terraced houses with private gardens on the site of the gallery and coffee shop say losing the outside seating area in the middle of Thorpeness will take away one of the main reasons for tourists' visits and continue its decline into a dormitory coastal village.
Councillors have already written to Suffolk Coastal District Council outlining their reasons for wanting to see the application refused and are looking for residents to make their feelings known as well.
The controversial planning proposal was lodged by Thomas Brent and Urban Resolve Ltd.
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If passed, it will see three houses built, with their gardens taking up an area currently popular for outdoor dining at the café, fronting the main road through the village.
A new 77-seater restaurant, with manager's accommodation, will be created in a separate building, along with a shop and ice-cream stall.
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Thorpeness resident Peter Stephenson-Wright , who lives next door to the Barn Hall development, said he was not against development per se, because it was clear something could be done with the building.
But he added: “The issue is what kind of development you are proposing. What we have here is a development which will take away the very heart of the village.
“Thorpeness is very popular in the summer. Thousands of day trippers come from, in some cases, a hundred miles inland, to enjoy the atmosphere, the boating lake and sea. And part of that is sitting on the lawns enjoying a cup of tea and having a bit of lunch.
“This development would do away with all that. It would be completely different.”
Mr Stephenson-Wright said he had done some calculations of his own and claimed the existing 400sq m sitting area would be reduced to an 18sq m terrace.
Richard Owen, a councillor on Aldringham-Cum-Thorpe Parish Council, believed that part of the development alone would change the very fabric of Thorpeness.
“There's not much left of the village and this is the focal point. We meet people from all over the world who come here to enjoy sitting out here watching people, or watching the birds.
“We don't want an external, or an internal, developer coming here and turning it into a dormitory town.”
Mr Owen called on Suffolk Coastal councillors to back their fight to see the development redrawn.
“With a development like this you have to look at the area as a whole and consider what the village stands for.”
Council chairman Eric Atkinson agreed. He said: “Thorpeness is unique. The green is what tourists and visitors come here for.”
He added: “This development is intrusive and would change the character of the village forever. Once it is lost that's it, we'll never get it back again.”
But Thomas Brent, owner of London-based Thomas Brent Associates, denied that the work would be to the detriment of the village.
He said: “The building as it stands at the moment is below the flood plain and is made of asbestos - it's clad and roofed in asbestos.
“We're reconstructing that building exactly as it was. There will be three houses and we're putting a proper restaurant construction and a shop and an ice-cream stall in a stand-alone building at the rear.
“It will be good for the village - I can't see how anyone can possibly say it's going to be bad. We're not building a building which is out of character, we've been very sensitive.
“All the materials are going to be commensurate with those used in Thorpeness and we would not construct anything which is against the local authority's or conservation officer's approval.
“I know the area very well, and I wouldn't wish to do anything which would detract from its charm.”
Suffolk Coastal District Council is expected to make a decision on the application by March 1.