West Row residents vow to fight development

John Smith (Chairman of the West Row Action Group) in front of the proposed housing land ANL-150113-112114009
John Smith (Chairman of the West Row Action Group) in front of the proposed housing land ANL-150113-112114009
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Outraged residents in West Row have been brought together by a planning application - forming an action group in an attempt to stop it.

The West Row Action Group was founded in response to a proposed development of 138 houses off Beeches Road in the village.

An extraordinary parish council planning meeting last week, in which developers Pigeon Investments presented its plans to councillors, descended into chaos as residents battled to voice their objections.

A meeting in the Judes Ferry pub last Thursday to discuss the proposal attracted more than 90 residents, and the newly formed action group were due to meet again in West Row Village Hall last night.

Action group member John Smith said: “The whole village is absolutely behind us, because people are very concerned. It is a tiny little village, not a town, and putting developments like this in will make us like Red Lodge - only it is worse here because we have no amenities.

“The council were trying to say there was a housing need, but with RAF Mildenhall closing, how can they say that now?”

Forest Heath District Council leader James Waters said the land, the majority of which is owned by Suffolk County Council, hadpreviously been earmarked for development.

“You’re looking at big numbers, but over a long period of time,” he said. “It is in the centre of the village and will help to support the community, but it has to be sustainable.

“If you look at the amount of land compared with the amount of houses it is a low density development, more inkeeping with the area’s character. We do not want urbanisation of the village.”

Independent candidate for Eriswell and the Rows Mr Smith said the group does not have a problem with sustainable development in the town, and considers the allocation of 211 houses in the village over the next 15 years ‘reasonable’.

However, concerns have been raised about the location of the proposed site, opposite the entrance to West Row Primary School, which already suffers from traffic problems.

Mr Smith said: “It is the wrong thing in the wrong place. If you build another one of these huge housing estates, it won’t benefit the community.”