Long Melford councillors say the success of their latest neighbourhood plan consultation showed the concerns people have about the future of the village, after plans for another large housing development were put forward.
Approximately 250 people took part in the event in the village hall on Saturday, to give their input on how to shape Long Melford going forward, one week after hundreds of residents marched through the village in protest of planning applications which they believe are contributing to over-development.
On Friday, developer Gladman Estates formally submitted an application, seeking outline permission for 150 new homes on a plot of land off Station Road – a plan which already has substantial opposition, after villagers received leaflets on the proposal from the developer through the post last month.
A separate application for the site, which seeks to change its status from agricultural use to equestrian use, was submitted last year, and was also criticised due to fears that it would make the land a brownfield site and thereby provide “a back door” to housing.
Graham Eade, chairman of the Long Melford Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said: “Without a plan, Melford will be open season to all developers.
“If the people of Melford are to have control over the future of the village, then the only way this could be achieved is through a neighbourhood plan. The response was fantastic.”
Mr Eade added that it was essential for the plan to be based on evidence, and that more work was needed on gathering evidence on the three key areas of housing, infrastructure and traffic.
At the latest consultation day, more than 100 attendees volunteered to help take the plan forward.
Long Melford Parish Council is hoping to have the neighbourhood plan drawn up by the end of this year, at which point it will be subject to a public referendum, which will determine whether or not the village will adopt the plan.
If adopted, the plan will help to steer what kind of development should be implemented for Long Melford, and what sites would be most appropriate to facilitate this.
Concerns over the quantity of development for the area include rising traffic congestion and strain on roads, as well as pressure on schools and the doctor’s surgery.
John Nunn, parish and district councillor for Long Melford, told the Free Press: “The sheer number of people attending throughout the day highlights the level of concern there is about development in the village and how we can go about securing a say in this for the future.
“We are half way through our plan, with hundreds signing up to volunteer their services.