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‘We’re fighting off developments left, right and centre’, villagers claim

PUBLISHED: 17:17 01 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:41 01 November 2018

Rachel Tooke-Marchant with children Reuben, five, and Ottilie, three, in a poppy field off Wetherden Road in Elmswell that is due to be built on. Picture: JEN TOOKE-MARCHANT

Rachel Tooke-Marchant with children Reuben, five, and Ottilie, three, in a poppy field off Wetherden Road in Elmswell that is due to be built on. Picture: JEN TOOKE-MARCHANT

Villagers in Elmswell say they are “under siege” from housing developments as they lose the battle to protect a picturesque poppy field from being paved over.

Jen Tooke-Marchant who is concerned about over-development in Elmswell Picture: JEN TOOKE-MARCHANTJen Tooke-Marchant who is concerned about over-development in Elmswell Picture: JEN TOOKE-MARCHANT

Residents of the popular mid Suffolk village are speaking out as they are concerned the swathes of new homes will put increased pressure on amenities, such as roads and the school, and will damage their way of life.

Last month Mid Suffolk District Council approved plans for 240 homes off Wetherden Road, with the site including a poppy field that became a favourite spot for family photos over the summer.

Elmswell, as well as other mid Suffolk villages like Thurston and Woolpit, are facing dozens of speculative applications from developers in the absence of a current local plan, which is a legal planning document guiding development.

Jen Tooke-Marchant, a mother-of-two from Elmswell, said it may be too late for the poppy field, but residents are galvanised to air their anger over what they see as the destruction of their way of life.

She said: “We’re fighting off developments quite literally left, right and centre. It’s like being under siege.”

Elmswell parish clerk Peter Dow said there is set to be an estimated 42% increase in homes in the village, in terms of developments that have already been granted permission and including the former bacon factory site.

He said: “We are going to get a far less good quality of life from this expansion, but it’s driven by a government that’s determined to produce more houses and we are a honey pot - the East of England is honey pot A and Elmswell within that is honey pot B.”

He added: “I have been here 40 years and it isn’t the village I moved to and it will be dramatically different in 10 years time, if I am alive. There will be no way it can be called a village.”

Rob Duckett, a father-of-two who works as a quality manager, said his road, Cross Street, was already so busy with traffic children wouldn’t cross to trick or treat his house at Halloween.

“I had to take the sweets across the road to the kids. It’s unsafe,” he said.

In a recent decision to uphold an appeal for 49 homes in Woolpit, planning inspector Harold Stephens had been unconvinced Mid Suffolk District Council could demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

Nick Gowrley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, assured people officers were working “very hard” to provide the evidence.

“We are looking at the applications already approved to see whether they will start delivering, but part of the problem with that is some of these developers are the same developers who are trying to use the view we haven’t got a five-year land supply to put their speculative applications in.”

Elmswell Parish Council is also working on a Neighbourhood Plan, which will establish planning policies for the development of land.

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