Villagers take a stand in fight against homes

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Long Melford residents hand their 850-name petition to Babergh officer Steve Ellwood.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Long Melford residents hand their 850-name petition to Babergh officer Steve Ellwood.
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An 850-name petition objecting to 51 homes in Long Melford “illustrates the strength of feeling” about the proposals, according to residents.

Around 25 villagers hired a coach from Long Melford to Babergh District Council’s offices in Hadleigh yesterday in order to hand the petition to Steve Ellwood, the council’s democratic services manager, before today’s deadline.

David Wilson Homes’ plans for the development, on the former Fleetwood Caravan site in Hall Street, have been heavily criticised by residents over traffic and access concerns, the number of homes, the lack of any employment sites and parking provision.

Sheila Woodward, who organised the petition, said: “It illustrates the strength of feeling in the village.

“There aren’t many high streets like Long Melford’s these days, and this isn’t something you can build and then think ‘We can scrap it’ if it doesn’t work.”

She stressed that residents were not opposed to houses, but were concerned about the density of the proposal and its location, which is partially in a conservation area.

Jane Cochrane, from Hall Street, added: “This would put a lot more strain on the facilities we have, like schools and doctors. This is not a good thing for a heritage village.”

Mrs Cochrane said David Wilson Homes had sent out newsletters asking if residents were in favour of affordable homes, rather than the development itself.

“Developers want to make their profit and move on, they have no feeling for the village,” she said.

A David Wilson Homes spokeswoman claimed the plans were supported by some.

“We have carried out a programme of public consultation and found there is support in the village, especially for elements of the scheme such as affordable housing,” she said.

“We have submitted a revised application that goes a significant way to addressing concerns and a newsletter has recently been sent to the village outlining the changes.”

A date has not yet been fixed for the application to be decided by the development committee.