New homes row causes splash in picture postcard Kersey as plans anger residents
PUBLISHED: 17:18 04 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:18 04 July 2017
After rows over new homes in villages across Suffolk and Essex, a new battle is raging over proposals to build seven small houses in what is arguably the region’s most attractive village.
Kersey, near Hadleigh, has featured on millions of postcards and chocolate boxes over the last few decades with its picturesque water splash and quaint buildings brimming with period features.
But now a proposal to build seven new homes behind some of the oldest buildings in the village has prompted fury among local residents.
It is an argument that has been heard in communities across the area – East Bergholt, Framlingham, Shotley, and Fressingfield are all communities that have been fighting plans for new homes, which residents fear could change the character of their towns or villages in recent years.
Most people acknowledge the need for new houses, especially “affordable’’ ones, but not enough communities appear ready to welcome new development.
Kersey Parish Council has voted unanimously against the proposal – and now residents are waiting to see what happens when it is considered by Babergh council.
A family-run company, Rural Community Housing, run by Andrew Harding wants to build the houses on a piece of undeveloped land behind a row of old cottages next to the Bell Inn. He was invited to comment on the application yesterday, but was not able to reply to our call.
He had said earlier he was proud of the design of homes that he felt were in character with the village.
The first application for six homes in the heart of Kersey was submitted at the end of 2015, but was never approved by Babergh. This was later amended to seven homes – three of which would be built as “affordable” housing.
The proposal was discussed by parish councillors at their meeting earlier this week. Chairman John Hume said: “Kersey Parish Council voted unanimously against the proposal. The vast majority of people in the village are also against it.
“The parish council acknowledges there may be a need for affordable housing in the village, but not on this precise site. It is in the grounds of a Grade II * listed building in a conservation area.
“Once this area is gone it is gone forever. There are other sites in the village that are much more suitable for a sympathetic development.
“Babergh District Council has a local responsibility under the National Planning Framework of the 1990 Planning Act to protect this site and we hope they will do so.”
Georgie Todd lives in the cottage next to the Bell Inn with her 16-month-old daughter Charlie. The access to the land is through a narrow passage between her home and the pub, which are both hundreds of years old.
The oldest part of the pub dates from 1379 – and the cottages where Ms Todd lives are not thought to be much newer. They are all Grade II* listed properties..
Ms Todd said: “The proposals are ridiculous, how on earth are you going to get construction vehicles through this path here? It would be impossible for us to live here.”
The land where the homes would go is a wild area alive with flowers and insects linked to the small garden behind her cottage.
She said: “We have been living here for five months. I’d lived in Kersey before and moved away before coming back here. I love it here, but if this goes ahead we’ll have to move.
“The cottage is rented. I couldn’t afford to buy a home here. This cottage has two bedrooms, but one is only large enough for a cot, and I’ve been told it would cost about £200,000. I can’t afford that kind of money.”
She fears that smaller, modern homes would be too expensive for local people, and they could end up as holiday cottages.
Mr Hume said the problems faced by construction teams accessing the site would not be a matter for planning authorities – but there would be a concern about such a small entrance being used by up to 28 vehicle movements a day reaching the seven homes.
There is likely to be concerns about emergency vehicles’ access to the site as well.
Babergh councillor Alan Ferguson was at the parish council meeting. He was unable to comment on the proposal because he is a member of the authority’s planning committee.
However, he had seen and heard what was said – and is expecting the issue to be discussed at a planning committee later in the summer.