Hundreds of residents showed their support for a campaign against the overdevelopment of Long Melford, when they joined a march around the village at the weekend to raise awareness of the issues.
More than 300 people braved the cold weather on Saturday morning for the walk, which went from Cordell Place to Roman Way, via a number of land plots that have been proposed as sites for large housing developments.
The walk was organised by Save Long Melford’s Skylark Fields, an action group set up after an application was submitted late last year to convert a 19-hectare plot off Station Road for keeping horses – which villagers and Long Melford councillors believe could lay the groundwork for developing the site with new homes.
These concerns were exacerbated when Melford households received brochures in the post last month from developer Gladman Land, seeking the public’s views on the idea of building 150 homes on the same site.
Long Melford parish and district councillor John Nunn said the excellent turnout showed the deep concern of villagers and the value they attached to the village.
“This is a great community battle over the whole future of the Long Melford landscape,” he said. “Once damaged, the picture cannot be changed.
“The village has taken its fair share of development in the past 18 months, with three new developments amounting to more than 200 homes currently being built.
“We are in danger of destroying the character and all that people love about our village forever.
“We oppose further large scale development – we do not, however, have any objections to small scale infill housing and truly affordable housing for young people.
“We, who represent the community on various bodies, are fully in support of the actions being taken and thank the people for all their hard work.”
A spokesman for the action group said the group was surprised by such a strong turnout and explained their next goal is to start co-ordinating responses to planning applications with other action groups in the Sudbury area.
He told the Free Press he wanted to convince people that having no development whatsoever is not an option, so they should instead push for the right kind of development in the right places to be set out in the Long Melford Neighbourhood Plan.
“It’s just about keeping the momentum going now,” he said.
“Nobody wants that level of development in the village. Within a three or four-mile radius of Long Melford, there is the potential for 3,000-plus homes. That’s like a small town on top of infrastructure that’s already creaking at the seams.
“If we can defeat the stable application, which is a red herring, it would give us the time to get the neighbourhood plan sorted out, and the neighbourhood plan lasts for 20 years.”
Save Long Melford’s Skylark Fields is urging anyone living outside Long Melford who is also worried about development where they live to join the group on Facebook.