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Villagers' David v Goliath fight to save rural way of life

PUBLISHED: 05:31 29 June 2019

Villagers are fighting to stop land between Trimley St Martin, Kirton and the A14 - just behind these houses and the farm shop - being turned into a 200-acre logistics park Picture: JERRY TURNER

Villagers are fighting to stop land between Trimley St Martin, Kirton and the A14 - just behind these houses and the farm shop - being turned into a 200-acre logistics park Picture: JERRY TURNER

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Villagers fighting to stop major development in the Suffolk countryside have launched an online crowdfunding bid to get wider support for their legal fight against one of the country's wealthiest institutions.

Stephen Wrinch, Director of Katcag inside the council chambers   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNStephen Wrinch, Director of Katcag inside the council chambers Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

KATCAG - the Kirton and Trimley Community Action Group - is taking on landowner Trinity College, Cambridge, in a David v Goliath planning battle to try stop land in the communities being designated for homes and industry.

The group has worries about proposed housing sites in the Trimleys and "huge concerns" about 300 acres of land designated for an industrial development at Innocence Farm, between Trimley St Martin and Kirton.

The land is part of Trinity College's 3,400-acre landholding on the Felixstowe peninsula - which includes land on which part of the Port of Felixstowe stands - which is believed to be worth tens of millions of pounds.

East Suffolk Council says the business park would support the Port of Felixstowe, reflecting its "important economic role" and support its continued viability.

But KATCAG says the projects would ruin the villages, swamping them and turning them into urban sprawl.

It has launched a crowdJustice page to boost its fundraising for a barrister to go head-to-head with the landowners' lawyers to represent local people at a public inquiry into East Suffolk Council's new Local Plan later this summer.

A spokesman for the group said: "This is a self-funded campaign we believe we can win, given the right level of help and support. Accordingly, we are raising money to pay for a barrister, to help us to challenge Trinity College. Neither they, nor the council seem prepared to consider the loss of two precious Domesday Book villages.

"We currently have funds of £8,500 towards our campaign. We need to collectively raise another £21,500, totalling £30,000 by the end of August."

The group says it is fighting to preserve the village way of life.

The spokesman said: "These two Domesday Book villages face the awful prospect on the horizon of the obliteration of their countryside, wildlife habitats and extremely valuable arable farmland. It isn't difficult to realise that we need to grow our own food more than ever."

The group is also concerned at further pressure on the A14 - the Felixstowe peninsula's only road in and out - and the impact closures have on villagers.

It added: "Our infrastructure is at breaking point already regarding sewage, water, schools and doctor's surgeries."

The group believes there are plenty of brownfield sites for housing - but this is contested by Suffolk Coastal.

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Tim Collins, of Bidwells, agents for Trinity College, Cambridge, said: "The allocation of much needed land to support the operation of the Port of Felixstowe - one of the busiest ports in the country and a major local employer - at Innocence Farm is part of the East Suffolk Local Plan. This will be examined by an independent Planning Inspector later this year. The proximity of Innocence Farm to the port and the trunk road network is a key part of it's attraction to facilitate growth of the Port.

"As we look at how we would deliver the new employment space, we are carefully reviewing landscaping, ecology and transport amongst a host of other issues - creating a scheme that minimises its impact locally whilst performing a regionally important role.

"We will be undertaking broader public consultation later this year and continue to listen to local groups and stakeholders in the meantime."

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