Sheltered housing scheme fury

PUBLISHED: 23:35 18 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

NEIGHBOUR went head to head with neighbour at a packed and passionate public meeting, which has been heralded a success for local democracy in Suffolk.

NEIGHBOUR went head to head with neighbour at a packed and passionate public meeting, which has been heralded a success for local democracy in Suffolk.

Stutton Parish Council voted narrowly against a controversial proposal to build a £3 million housing scheme for the elderly in the village after hearing nearly two hours of heated debate from residents.

Chairman of the parish council Neil Mordey said that he believed the five – four vote against the development, which would see nearly 40 flats for the very frail and elderly built on land off Bentley Lane, reflected the generally feeling in the village.

"Personally, and many of the people I have spoken to, believe it is an excellent scheme, it's just in the wrong place. That's not NIMBYISM. To put two storey housing overlooking single storey bungalows at the top of a very narrow and constricted lane is clearly not very clever," he said.

Babergh District Council representatives' councillor David Woods and head of planing Richard Watson were given a rough ride at the meeting in the village primary school.

Criticism centred on the perceived inadequacy of Bentley Lane as an access road to the site, the "breathtaking ugliness and scale" of the development and fears that Stutton was too isolated and lacking in village amenities to accommodate an influx of elderly residents.

Guy Law of Larksfield Road told the meeting: "I wouldn't want my mother stuck in a field somewhere if it was going to take 15 – 20 minutes to get an ambulance to her if she needed it.

"The arguments are not that we don't want a lot of old people in the village, it's about access, roads and amenities."

But another speaker who said he had lived in Stutton for 20 years charged the village with attempting to throttle a necessary development simply because they were too selfish to give up their view.

"My mother has Parkinson's and I would like somewhere for her to live out her life in dignity," said the unnamed resident.

"This scheme sounds perfect to me but people are worried about her stumbling out into the road and spoiling the view.

"I have listened to all the arguments tonight and I think the difficulties we have are total superfluous. People in her condition don't have cars. They don't get visited as much as you might think. This sounds to me like the perfect case of not in my back yard."

Keith Bayles chairman of the Catts Trust – a group looking after land, including allotments, bequeathed to the village by a former resident – was greeted with a gusty round of applause when he declared his reluctance to sell part of the trust landed needed to build a footpath to the development.

"If this goes ahead I can see Catts Field and Catts Close being nothing but a glorified car park," he said.

And after the meeting Jill Keeble of Catts Field, who owns land earmarked as a potential route for an alternative footpath, told The Evening Star that she "wouldn't sell up for all the money in the world".

The planning application, which has been lodged by Housing21 in conjunction with Babergh District Council and Suffolk County Council, will be discussed at a Babergh planning meeting on December 19.

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