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Opponents of controversial homes in Bures St Mary vow to continue fight at upcoming inquiry despite failed request for judicial review




Opponents of a controversial housing development in Bures St Mary have pledged to continue their fight, following an unsuccessful attempt to bring the homes to a legal review.

The Keep Bures Beautiful campaign voiced its disappointment after a judge denied its request for a judicial review of Babergh District Council’s approval of partly-completed properties on Cuckoo Hill.

Three retrospective applications for four houses at the former slaughterhouse site were green-lit last year, but demolition orders were imposed on the other two.

BURES: Protest.Pilgrims Garage, Cuckoo Hill, Bures.Bures residents are holding a silent protest, as Babergh planners visit the site of a controversial partially-built housing development in Cuckoo Hill, which is seeking retrospective permission. Picture by Mark Westley. (30942924)
BURES: Protest.Pilgrims Garage, Cuckoo Hill, Bures.Bures residents are holding a silent protest, as Babergh planners visit the site of a controversial partially-built housing development in Cuckoo Hill, which is seeking retrospective permission. Picture by Mark Westley. (30942924)

This prompted the launch of a crowdfunding appeal, as villagers protested the council’s reversal of its decision to refuse all six homes in 2018, having previously found they had breached their original planning permission granted in 2015.

The community had intended to raise money to finance the legal costs, while Bures St Mary Parish Council fought the case on their behalf – but a judge ruled against allowing campaigners to change the claimant, and concluded there was insufficient evidence to take the case to review.

Attention now turns to next month’s planning inquiry into an appeal by developer Stemar, which is seeking to overturn the demolition notices on plots five and six, so that all of the homes stay standing.

Gill Jackson, chairman of Bures St Mary Parish Council, confirmed the council is working hard to make sure they have the strongest case possible to present to the inquiry, in favour of upholding the demolition orders.

Meanwhile, the Keep Bures Beautiful group stated its fundraising will continue to help fund its own expert advice for the inquiry, which is set to begin on April 21 and run for several days.

Kenn Butcher, from the Keep Bures Beautiful campaign, claimed their attempt to bring the case to judicial review had been “a close run thing”, with the decision going against the community.

“Costs aside, this was a great disappointment, as our legal advice was that we had a very strong case,” he said.

Mr Butcher also thanked the Bures community for its support so far in raising money for the planning battle, with the most recent fundraiser – an auction of promises held in February – bringing in almost £2,000.

It is hoped this money can be used to help develop the village’s arguments for the properties on plots five and six to be demolished.

He argued there are strong safety concerns around the site access to the new development, as well as anger that the houses had been built significantly higher than permitted in their initial planning conditions, dominating neighbouring properties and the Bures conservation area.

“We would like to have the best possible case to put forward to the inspector,” Mr Butcher told the Free Press. “We feel, at the very least, that plot six should certainly be demolished.

“At the end of the day, I think safety is of paramount importance. If they really want to have a safe site entrance, they would need to widen the access.

“People in the village are really disappointed that this process has gone as far as it has. Stemar has had people working on plot six, which leads you to think it is fairly confident it will be approved.

“It’s appalling that you can put in for planning permission and then do something different. But it seems that, if a developer spends enough money on something, they can do what they want.”

He added that several members of the community plan to attend the inquiry next month and welcomed others to come along to the hearing.

The inquiry will kick off at Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa in Keepers Lane on Tuesday, April 21, and is expected to run at least until Friday, April 24.

Keeps Bures Beautiful is planning to hold its next fundraising event – a barn dance – on March 15.


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