Campaigners celebrate as council scraps bid to develop heritage site

NEW HOPE FOR SITE: Save Cox's Park member Gavin Talbot and Hadleigh town councillor Penny Cook outside East House.
NEW HOPE FOR SITE: Save Cox's Park member Gavin Talbot and Hadleigh town councillor Penny Cook outside East House.

Plans to renovate Hadleigh’s landmark East House and build four-bedroom detached houses in its grounds have been scrapped.

Babergh District Council has decided to withdraw its application for the redevelopment of the listed house into two apartments and build executive homes and cart lodges in its George Street grounds after pressure from objectors.

An action group called Save Cox’s Park presented a petition to the council last year, saying the land at the rear of the property was used by local families and by dog walkers and should be kept as public open space.

More than 1,000 people signed the petition and the council also received more than 100 individual objections to the plans, including from English Heritage and Hadleigh Town Council.

The district council, which owns the Grade II listed Georgian property, had hoped to make the marketing of East House more lucrative with the addition of planning permission.

A council spokesman said the decision to withdraw the plan was taken following “objections and responses received during a consultation exercise carried out last year”.

It says it still plans to sell East House to fund some of the costs of the £2.4million improvements to Hadleigh Pool and Leisure Centre, and intends submitting a revised plan.

But before any resubmission is made, it will hold a public exhibition at Hadleigh Library in mid-April to outline its proposals, and it will give residents the chance to comment on the revised scheme.

The news was met with a mixed reaction from objectors who said they were delighted that planners had listened to what people were saying.

Gavin Talbot, from the Save Cox’s Park action group, said: “We welcome the fact that Babergh has listened to public opinion and has given people the chance to be involved in the process.

“However, until we get a definitive answer to whether or not Cox’s Park will be included in the next planning application, we will not be able to celebrate.

“We have always been about saving the park for now and for future generations. Hadleigh needs more open space and to build on this area goes against the council’s own open space policy.”

Hadleigh councillor Penny Cook, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, said: “I am very pleased to hear this news.

“For me, the planners have listened to local objectors and that can only be a good thing.”