Long Melford residents opposing plans for 51 homes in the village have claimed commercial interest was priced out of the site after it was offered for sale at three times its market value.
David Wilson Homes has submitted plans for the development of the former Fleetwood Caravan factory site in Hall Street, which have been met with opposition from villagers, including an 850-signature petition and more than 250 letters of objection.
Vivian Woodward, from the Fleetwood Caravan Neighbourhood Group, said the marketing report for the site, submitted to the council, gives a false impression of the potential for its development by a commercial or industrial developer, depriving Long Melford of possible job opportunities.
“The marketing exercise was actually commissioned and paid for by Barratt Homes, the parent company of David Wilson Homes,” he said.
“The derelict buildings were advertised for industrial or commercial use at a cost of £1.5million, a price appropriate for residential, but not industrial development.”
Residents’ concerns have focused on traffic and access issues, the density of the proposed development and the loss of a former employment site.
Mr Woodward, a professional economist, said the Land Registry shows that Fleetwood Caravans purchased the site for £435,000 in 2003.
“Official UK government statistics on the increased cost of constructing industrial or commercial buildings show that the current market value should be no more than £550,000, particularly since the site is known to be contaminated by industrial use,” he said.
“This report was unquestioningly accepted by Babergh in September, but if this is held to be valid it means that any residential builder can take an option on an industrial site, advertise it at a price set high enough to deter industrial use and force a change in land use from industrial to residential.”
Peter Biggs, planning manager at David Wilson Homes, said he did not believe there were any issues with the report.
“Our marketing exercise was carried out by independent consultants, at Babergh’s request,” he said.
“Once submitted, it is for Babergh to verify that the report is robust and accurate, which we believe it is.” He added that the development would provide jobs and benefit the local economy of the village and wider area.