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A village prepares to fight the big builder

There was a stone-built church in Debenham before the Norman conquest. Now one of the biggest builders in the country wants to come here and increase the population by nearly a third — the 2,500 inhabitants fear they will have little say in how their village is transformed.

Taylor Wimpey plans to build 296 of its pastiche English countryside homes, complete with fake chimneys. There are strong rumours that it is has its hands on another piece of farmland to more than double that number.

It is not that the people don’t want the village to expand. New housing since the 1960s when the high school was built has ensured there is still a healthy community here. But it needs to expand to protect the services, like buses, the thriving co-op store, the butcher, the greengrocer, the two pubs, the library the newsagent and the other businesses. A new surgery for the doctors is also wanted.

The parish council has been quietly working out how expansion could be managed without destroying the character of Debenham. The planners call it sustainable development.

Last night hundreds of us gathered in the community centre to hear how we could oppose — or support —the plan. But, if some supported Taylor Wimpey they kept quiet.

Of course the planners at Mid Suffolk District Council have been exchanging ideas with  Taylor Wimpey about the scheme for some time, certainly since last summer, out of sight of the people most affected. We are given 21 days to read the long application documents and comment.

My reaction is to return to blogging. I will record the twists and turns of what promises to be a long battle.

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