Heritage village hits out at homes plan

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Latest community news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Residents of an historic village are fighting plans to “squash” six new homes into the heart of its medieval conservation area.

Controversial proposals to build six two-bedroom homes behind a row of six listed cottages off The Street in Kersey look set to go before councillors at Babergh.

Hadleigh solicitor Howard Gibbons said it would be a travesty for the idyllic Suffolk village - which has appeared in many films and adverts - if the homes are approved.

Commenting in a local community news magazine, Mr Howard said: “We are raping and pillaging the Suffolk countryside - and it’s little old villages for nothing more than a quick profit.”

He said the application would see the six homes, and 12 parking spaces, squashed immediately behind the run of Grade II listed rented cottages.

“Although there are massive gardens behind them, the building boundary is quite small and residents would look out onto a concrete jungle pressed up against the back windows.”

A long-term cottage resident, who lives at one end of the row, will see his side access turned into a road, said Mr Howard. “He’ll risk getting mowed down by cars,” he added.

Mr Howard said he decided to speak out about the plans because he wanted to highlight a threat to “the ancient village of Kersey” and he was urging people to send objections to the chairman of Babergh District Council’s planning committee.

The homes, including two affordable properties, will be available to rent according to a design and access statement which said: “The homes will be suitable for persons of lower income, like carers, to live and work in the community where they may be looking after an older resident.

“Properties available to rent for local residents have been decreasing for many years in Kersey as they have been purchased for private occupation or made available as holiday lets.

“The proposed development is for small, well designed cottages available for rent, thus helping to restore a balance to the permanent community.”

But resident Iqbal Alam, who represents the Kersey residents’ group against the development, said he had personally visited many houses in the village and the majority of residents were “vehemently” against the development.

“We want to make it clear that we are not against housing if there is a proven need for housing in Kersey,” he said.

“This proposal is to build on a piece of land in the setting of a listed building in a conservation area.

“The over riding law which applies here is the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990. The law requires the council to give special regards to the conservation, and there have been a number of court cases in this regard which have gone to the court of appeal.”

Suffolk Preservation Society commented: “The Society considers the development would adversely affect the setting of neighbouring listed buildings.”

It described the cottages as being “a remarkable survival” of three pairs of medieval buildings.

Kersey Parish Council chairman John Hume said councillors had voted unanimously against the homes plan at a meeting held in December.

“We think it’s pretty outrageous. In a medieval village with many listed buildings, we also believe it will cause access problems.” He said there were substantial legal reasons why the plan should be rejected,