Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Go ahead given for 170 homes on Inspired land.

ANGRY campaigners have condemned a council's “horrific” decision to allow 170 homes to be built in a picturesque valley.

The homes on Carson's Drive at Great Cornard, near Sudbury, are part of Babergh District Council's local plan which campaigners say will destroy views that inspired legendary painter Thomas Gainsborough.

At yesterday's full council meeting members rejected an amendment to reduce the number of houses on the site and a further 11th hour amendment to eliminate the site altogether from the local plan.

Controversy was stoked by the exclusion of five councillors who had “pre-determined” the debate by signing a Save Gainsborough Country Campaign (SGCAG) petition against Carson's Drive.

Embittered campaigners pointed to the fact that the five were less than the margin of defeat for the amendment to omit the 170 homes.

Betty Bone, SGCAG member, said: “If the five councillors had not been barred from the meeting then Carson's Drive would have been deleted.

“I'm horrified because when I first lived in Great Cornard 50 years ago there were perhaps 170 homes in the whole village now they are putting 170 in one field.”

Stefan Kosciuszko, chairman of SGCAG, who vowed not to give up defending the valley, said: “Today marks a new low point in the history of our district.

“The views of over 2,200 individuals, objections from English Heritage and Suffolk County Council Highways and sound planning arguments were all ignored in a sham of a consultation process.

“The stench of pre-determination emanating from the council offices has been overpowering throughout this process.”

Nick Ridley, chairman of the strategy committee, said he regretted the fact that five councillors had been excluded from the decision but he said the plan was sound and had been debated in detail.

“It would have been helpful if all the councillors had taken part but they were not allowed to proceed,” he said.

“However, we must keep things in proportion - we have a good plan. It is a plan which balances new housing, including low cost housing, new sites for jobs and environmental improvements for the next ten years.”

Rich Cooke, acting head of planning policy and economic development at Babergh, had urged councillors to pass the Carson's Drive scheme or face losing the entire local plan.

He said the district had been waiting eight years for an up-to-date local plan and failure to agree on one before the deadline of July 21 could invite a “scatter gun” approach from developers.

The amendment to block the 170 homes was defeated 15 votes to 12, and the local plan was passed 22 votes to two.

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