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Rushmere St Andrew: Campaigners’ fears over woodland homes scheme

PUBLISHED: 08:45 22 February 2014

The commemorative woodland at Rushmere St Andrew

The commemorative woodland at Rushmere St Andrew

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A group of charities seeking to develop housing on commemorative woodland in east Suffolk have been accused of “riding roughshod” over the community’s wishes.

Residents of Rushmere St Andrew fear the proposals to build 14 homes on land adjacent to The Street will erode the village’s separation with Ipswich and see the loss of a treasured community asset.

Barbara Robinson, a member of Save Our Country Spaces, claims more than 100 people from the village and surrounding area have planted trees on the site over the past 20 years, some of which held a “highly personal”, commemorative element.

“These people would feel really aggrieved that their efforts over the past 20 years would have been of no consequence at all,” she said.

Mrs Robinson has also highlighted the “interesting history” of the land and adjoining thatched cottage as grounds for preservation, referring to its “quintessentially rural landscape” and the horticultural enterprise devised by its former owners, the Baldwin family.

A spokesman for Knight Frank LLP, which submitted the application “on behalf of a number of charity beneficiaries”, said the company could find no evidence of the trees being commemorative.

“Nonetheless, we have carried out an arboricultural survey of the site and intend to preserve as many of the trees as possible,” they added.

The developers also say their designs respected the separation of the village from Ipswich in a style that is “in sympathy with the local vernacular”.

However, Mark Newton, a Suffolk Coastal district councillor for Rushmere, claims the vast majority of the village would disagree with those claims. “The community does not want the development or anything that would go towards eroding the separation that currently exists between Rushmere village and Ipswich borough,” he said. “We want the village to be maintained as a separate entity. The local authority has policies in place that are supposed to protect the open space between Ipswich and Rushmere.

“This particular developer seems to want to ride roughshod over those polices and obviously the residents are not in favour.”

Philip Richings, the chairman of Rushmere St Andrew Parish Council, which has recommended the application’s refusal, also acknowledged there was an “element of concern” over the commemorative trees.

“There may be an emotive side to it, but in law the charities are the owners and they can put in a planning application,” he added.

A decision is due by March 24.

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