Long Melford community rallies for long-term battle against 150-home plan
A Long Melford community group, which is fighting plans for a major housing development, is powering ahead with fundraising, as it prepares for a long-term battle to stop the controversial proposal.
The SOS (Save Our Skylark Fields) campaign is optimistic of defeating a planning application by Gladman Estates to build 150 new homes on a 19-hectare plot of land off Station Road, which is awaiting consideration by Babergh District Council’s planning committee.
The plans have faced heavy opposition from residents, citing infrastructure problems and potential damage to heritage and environmental assets, with two protest marches held earlier this year.
The SOS group has raised about £2,500 from a series of fundraisers, including a quiz and the sale of photographic calendars, with more events planned in the coming months.
Lisa Tipper, SOS chairman, explained the group believes the developer will almost certainly appeal if the proposal is rejected, so the campaign is raising money for any potential legal and consultation fees it may need for this eventuality.
She told the Free Press she is cautiously optimistic the plans can be defeated, particularly after Babergh recently restored its five-year land supply for housing, which gives local planning policy more weight in deciding applications.
“We live in hope,” she said. “We have an awful lot of evidence that will show there are so many reasons why that particular piece of land shouldn’t be built on.
“We are not against development. We already have two housing developments in progress. But building on this particular piece of land would be the end of the separation of Long Melford from the A134.
“We have a lot of issues. There is a lack of infrastructure, there’s visibility issues and the site is right next to the nature reserve.
“The announcement of the five-year land supply puts us in a better position, because it means speculative developers will have a harder time.
“The level of support has been huge. We have got lots of support from the village. We are going to try to get as many people down to Endeavour House as possible on the day it’s decided.”
A date for the hearing to consider the application has not yet been confirmed, although it could be as soon as later this month.
So far, the SOS campaign has held a quiz, which drew more than 140 people and brought in £1,053, and a fundraising stall at Long Melford Street Fair in July, which collected £824.
The group’s next fundraising event is a table and craft sale at the Old School on Sunday, September 23, followed by a race night at Long Melford Village Hall on Friday, September 28.