SAVE GAINSBOROUGH COUNTRY
25th January 2006
HUGH BELSEY, MBE, BAMLitt. TO ACT AS PRESIDENT OF THE FRIENDS OF SGCAG
MARTIN BELL OBE JOINS AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FRIENDS OF SGCAG
SAVE GAINSBOROUGH COUNTRY Action Group (SGCAG) and Friends of SGCAG campaign gaining considerable momentum to reject the proposed Carson’s Drive housing development in Gainsborough’s Valley
Hugh Belsey, MBE, BAMLitt., the world’s leading Gainsborough expert and former Curator of Gainsborough House Museum has undertaken to act as President of the Friends of SGCAG. Hugh is renowned worldwide for his scholarship and indefatigable work ethic applied to promoting an understanding, appreciation and the accessibility of Gainsborough. He single-handedly with grit and determination, and in the face of severe economic constraint over 21 years, created the world’s largest collection of Gainsborough paintings, prints and artefacts at Gainsborough House Museum, the birthplace of the artist in Sudbury.
Martin Bell OBE the broadcaster, author, journalist, and former MP nationally famous for campaigning on an independent, anti-corruption ticket, and who became a symbol of the revolt against perceived sleaze in government, has expressed his strong support for the campaign by agreeing to become a Vice President of the Friends of SGCAG.
Other distinguished national figures are coming forward, including Baroness Rendell of Babergh who has promised to “express intense disapproval” of this development plan. Furthermore Glynis Wash, Chairman of the Friends of Gainsborough House Museum has joined Lord Phillips of Sudbury, Governor of Gainsborough House Museum and many others to express their strongest possible support.
Tim Yeo MP, South Suffolk in offering his “unequivocal support” commented:
“I entirely share the concerns that have been raised about the proposal to develop 170 homes on open fields in the Stour Valley. Babergh District Council's previous policy which confirmed the Great Cornard Special Landscape Area in 2001 and confirmed this in 2003 was correct. It is wrong for an inspector from outside the area to overturn this policy to suit the interests of developers and against the clearly expressed views of Great Cornard Parish Council.”
Following the recent packed public consultation meeting organised by Great Cornard Parish Council (GCPC), and the launch of SGCAG and the Friends of SGCAG, well over 300 individuals have signed up to the Friends and other messages of support have been flooding in for the campaign to reject the proposed 170 home development concreting over the beautiful Stour Valley slopes above Carsons Drive and below Grade I listed Abbas Hall.
Stefan Kosciuszko, Chairman of the SGCAG commented:
“As one digs more closely into the details of this matter the Inspector’s recommendation becomes more and more surprising and highly extraordinary and I am certain that the Council Officers and District Councillors will reach the right decision to reject this development. To delete a portion of the Special Landscape Area that has been agreed through democratic process, thorough investigation and plain fact is an injustice. Furthermore it is an affront to the impacted community and makes a nonsense of the supposed tenets of “bottom-up” local consultation in the planning process.
The SGCAG are delighted that so many distinguished national figures have added their voices to the rapidly growing evidence of democracy in action that is represented by the expression of public feeling against this development.”
SGCAG campaigners will be gathering in Sudbury’s Market Hill on Saturday 28th January, and every Saturday throughout February, to sign up members of the Friends of SGCAG and will be distributing the facts on this matter and objection forms to be sent to Babergh District Council before the end of February, and the close of the consultation period. Contact details for the Group are below.
Notes to Editors
SAVE GAINSBOROUGH COUNTRY Action Group (SGCAG) and Friends of SGCAG launched
Residents of Great Cornard and Sudbury have formed an Action Group in order to stop a proposed 170 home development concreting over the beautiful Stour Valley slopes above Carsons Drive and below Grade I listed Abbas Hall.
The campaign will seek to reject the proposed Stour Valley housing development on land above Carsons Drive in Great Cornard and also in a linked matter the emasculation of Policy CR05 covering “strict control of development” in Special Landscape Areas throughout Babergh District, both of which have been proposed as recommendations by the Inspector in his recent assessment of the Babergh District Council Local Plan.
This land area was designated a Special Landscape Area (SLA) under the (BDC) Local Plan following a BDC Landscape Quality Assessment.
“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 justified”
“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”
(Babergh District Council Official Papers- Public Inquiry Proof of Evidence)
It incorporates historic National Heritage views across the beautiful Stour Valley which include the location of Gainsborough’s most famous paintings “A View of Cornard Wood” hanging in the National Gallery, and “Mr. & Mrs. Andrews”. It was also featured in David Dimbleby’s Summer 2005 BBC 1 programme a “Picture of Britain” and the Cornard Wood setting was the main picture used on the frontispiece of his book accompanying the national series.
Stefan Kosciuszko of Abbas Hall and Michael Evans, Chairman of the Cornard Tye Residents Association have been appointed Chairman and Secretary & Treasurer respectively at a preparatory meeting of the SGCAG convened on Saturday 7th January. Other officers for the Group include Clive Golding, Fundraising and Tony Harman, Communications. Evidence of strong popular support is further clear in how quickly resident representatives have been appointed for a majority of the streets in Great Cornard South that will be immediately impacted by the development.
A number of organisations including the Sudbury Society (Chairman, David Burnett), The Suffolk Preservation Society (Director, Richard Ward) and the Colne Stour Countryside Association (Chairman, Simon Ward) have already expressed their strongest possible opposition to this proposal, prior to the commencement of the Public Consultation period on the Local Plan on the 18th January 2006.
Popular public support is further clear when immediately upon launch of the Friends of SGCAG 215 people signed up to the Mission Statement as follows:
“Action Group formed to reject the 170 home development concreting over the lower slopes of the Stour Valley at Carson’s Drive, Great Cornard and the emasculation of Policy CR05 covering “strict control of development” in special landscape areas throughout Babergh District”