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Page updated - 28 December 2005

Stefan Kosciuszko - 03 Dec 2005

 

Stefan Kosciuszko

Abbas Hall

Cornard Tye

Great Cornard

Suffolk CO10 0QD

 

3rd December 2005

 

 

 

To Babergh District Councillors

 

 

 

Re: Great Cornard Special Landscape Area (SLA) – Land East of Carsons Drive

Inspector’s Report – Babergh Local Plan (Alteration No 2)

 

I am writing to you in connection with the above and the Inspector’s recommendation to accept the objection of Persimmon Homes/Boyer Planning and remove the SLA designation in this area. The Inspector goes further to recommend that this should be the location for a totally new development site for 170 homes. As a development site this has never been discussed in the public domain at any time hitherto.

 

This recommendation is predominantly based upon a Landscape Assessment carried out by Sarah Reynolds of the Landscape Partnership, paid for by a developer interested in developing this area in preference to the Shawlands development that was included in the Local Plan.

 

In stating my unequivocal objection to this recommendation it is worth referring to background information on this matter. This SLA was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the full Babergh District Council in July 2001 (please see attached article from the East Anglian Daily Times) and subsequently reconfirmed when the Council adopted the Local Plan on 28 February 2003, again with the full Council in a separate vote (required because of certain manoeuvres at that time to remove it) unanimously approving this extension to the existing Stour Valley SLA.

 

I refer to official Council papers to hand from which I will quote directly:

 

“The locality around this part of Great Cornard was scrutinised and the resulting extension to the Stour Valley Special Landscape Area was put forward in the First Deposit Draft of the Plan”

 

“The area identified for Special Landscape Area designation closely reflects the overall context of the Stour Valley, and includes woodland and valley features, and the historic setting of Abbas Hall”

 

“The Special Landscape Area designation for this part of Great Cornard has been rigorously assessed and its inclusion in the Babergh Local Plan Alteration No 2 Second Draft is felt to be justified” (Bold print has been used by the writer)

 

 

 

I must also draw to your attention the fact that in May 2002 a study produced as information presented by the Landscape Partnership in support of the Sudbury Transport Study identified the area now proposed for housing development as a site containing features utilised in Gainsborough’s painting “Cornard Wood” and Mr. & Mrs Andrews”, eg across both sides of the river valley.

 

As such the report concluded it should be considered as B2 Highly Sensitive – designations/features of national importance (using GOMMS guidelines to assist with the assessment of value). This report furthermore stated that this area in their Landscape Character Assessment was Condition – Good and Strength of Character - Strong and it should be designated as conserve and strengthen/conserve and restore.

 

Not build new houses on it, although the change in their attitude towards the character of this area may perhaps suit the current client that they are acting for.

 

This potential desecration of the Stour Valley and its important Gainsborough views from both sides of the river represents a major amendment to the Local Plan and one which is not welcome to the local community. The recent BBC “A Picture of Britain” had David Dimbleby commenting on these views, visiting Abbas Hall and driving along the ancient farm track which will now potentially be destroyed. This will ensure that any campaign to save this area from development will receive national prominence, notwithstanding the apparent “volte face” by Council officers and the Landscape Partnership.

 

I believe that at the Council meeting scheduled for 13th December 2005 Councillors have the opportunity to reject the recommendation of the Inspector in this regard and delete it from the Post Inquiry Modification list. A vote of the Council can be taken specifically on this issue.

 

By acting in this way the Council can avoid any judicial proceedings, welcome the Inspector’s report and move to an adoption of the Local Plan in time for the 21st July 2006, when the European Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (the SEA Directive) comes into effect. If this date is not met the Council officers have admitted the adoption of the Local Plan would become “extremely difficult and in all likelihood, it is believed, impossible for practical purposes”.

 

The deferral of this new development to an appropriate period of thorough consideration, including an Environmental Assessment, is entirely appropriate in such a sensitive site and one where the Inspector has admitted there would be a need for highway improvements (which may or may not damage a historic loke) and other utility changes to accommodate such a large scale development.  

 

I call upon you to abide by your previous decisions and that of the Council officers in this regard.

 

There is a clear and consistent trail of decision-making in this area and this should not be over turned by the imposition of an “outsider’s view” and that of a big money developer employing a consultant that has previously presented comments upon the importance of this site, but has now presented a different case.

 

I remain committed to the primary objectives of protecting Great Cornard from over development and especially in this area of heritage views across Gainsborough Country. The SLA was put in for this reason and for placing the onus upon the developer to prove that there is no other site available.

 

You have an opportunity to stand up and be a part of this protection of this important Stour Valley area.

 

 

Stefan Kosciuszko