THE PUBLIC INQUIRY
into the Babergh District Councils
Plans For Hadleigh.
The Hadleigh Society in company with the Hadleigh Residents Group and The Suffolk Preservation Society were privileged to not only represent themselves but also to be entrusted to represent the Hadleigh Town Council at the Public Inquiry held in 1993. Considerable work had been undertaken by the three bodies, and co-ordinated so that there was little overlap. In the event it was heartening for those actually facing the Inspector to have the moral support of the Mayor and the Town Clerk present.
Possibly as a result of the strength of feeling emerging from the preparatory work by the objectors, the Inspectors Report took somewhat longer to produce than anticipated. However, the Report lacks virtually nothing in its appreciation of the points being raised or concerns being expressed. The full Report is available in the Hadleigh Library and it runs to many hundreds of pages. The following are therefore only some of the Inspectors conclusions, quoted verbatim:-
"From the evidence presented and from my inspection of the town, its main characteristic is that there is a wide range of convenience goods shops. Because of the shoppers they attract they are the keystone to the vitality and viability of the town centre as a whole and to the character and heart of the Conservation Area. ...there would be a high risk of a large number of closures ... as a result of the opening of the store of the size proposed whether that would be in the proposed location or out of town.
...it must be a prime objective in such a fine market town and important conservation area to retain premises in use and fill gaps with appropriate buildings. I consider that the proposed development of a supermarket would be likely to prejudice that objective and harm the vitality and viability of the town centre.
...residents ... will regularly visit the large stores on the Ipswich fringe (to comparison shop). To stop some leakage, would be likely to require a very large store the size of a Tesco or Asda which would certainly not be practical or acceptable.
....Hadleigh has much if not more chance to compete and survive as a vital centre and Conservation Area by continuing to offer the diversity and speciality of convenience shops.... which is one of its main attractions.
I conclude that the proposed development would be harmful both to the vitality and viability of the retail centre and the character and appearance of the conservation area which relies heavily on keeping shops in use.
On my visits to the Riverside Walk, I was impressed with its peace and the scenic quality of this part of the countryside on the edge of the town ... are extremely attractive ... valuable asset ... its open nature is particularly important to the setting of the town and many of its buildings ... however designed such a large building would completely spoil this present quality development out of keeping with the domestic scale of the architecture ... would intrude upon and radically change the view for the worse ... most undesirable to alter the present view of Hadleigh by introducing such an element. I cannot accept that it could do other than detract from the character and appearance of the area the noise of the traffic would inevitably intrude upon the present peacefulness by the river and this too would be a harmful effect."
There is more in the same vein covering pedestrian access, car parking, flood risk, whilst the comments concerning the allotments and fishing have been considered but not in the same tone.
The Inspectors recommendation is that Policy 16, the Supermarket proposal, be deleted from the Alteration. It now remains to be seen if the Council are prepared to accept such a recommendation.