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Rushmere St Andrew: Campaigners celebrate victory in housing battle

PUBLISHED: 07:16 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 07:26 25 March 2014

The commemorative woodland at Rushmere St Andrew

The commemorative woodland at Rushmere St Andrew

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Campaigners battling against a housing development planned for commemorative woodland in east Suffolk have claimed victory after the developers withdrew their application.

Residents in Rushmere St Andrew had objected to the 14-dwelling development, claiming it would erode the village’s separation with Ipswich. They were also concerned about the destruction of trees, some of which, the campaigners claimed, had been planted in memory of loved ones.

But just days before a decision had been due, Knight Frank, representing a consortium of charities, which had been bequeathed the land by its former owner, withdrew the application.

Ron Spore, chairman of Save our Rushmere’s Rural Identity – an organisation set up in opposition to the proposals – said: “We are delighted to see that common sense has prevailed and that the outline planning application has been withdrawn in respect of this greenbelt land. It is quite disturbing, though, that things had developed as far as they had, whereby a consortium representing a number of animal welfare and environmental preservation charities had proposed to build 14 homes on a site which the former owner had wished to remain as green space.”

Mr Spore claims the former landowner, Nora Baldwin, had made instructions in her will for The Leonard Woolf Charitable Trust, set up by her close friend, to develop the site as a nature reserve. He believes the developers had managed to bypass that guidance, to proceed according to an earlier will written before her husband’s death, which had no such mention.

Knight Frank, has refuted 
this suggestion.

Although it acknowledges the later inclusion of The Leonard Woolf Charitable Trust, it claims there is no reference to how the land must be used.

“The fact also remains that Mrs Baldwin made a legally binding and irrevocable agreement with her husband that in their wills various properties, including the land, would go to the survivor, then to their daughter June and then to various animal and environmental charities,” said a spokesman.

Campaigners say they are committed to opposing any future plans for the site that they feel would be an inappropriate use.

Barbara Robinson, a member of Save Our Country Spaces, said: “It looks as though we’ve managed to thwart them for now. But we need to keep the pressure on these charities to make sure it stays that way.”

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