19 January 2001
Villagers escape ‘Colditz’ farm plan

By Nigel Burnham

PLANS for a housing development which villagers say will turn a farmers field into Colditz have been rejected despite three recommendations for approval.

John Robertson was seeking permission to build 36 houses at East Ord Farm, East Ord, near Berwick, arguing that he needed the revenue.

But protesters in the medieval village said the development on the hillside overlooking their historic green would shatter the villages character.

Borough councillor Laraine Wotherspoon said villagers were not opposed to development in general, but did not think the application was suitable.

The greenfield development would mark a departure from the local plan, which encouraged use of previously developed or brownfield sites, she said.

“With the houses piled above the new access road and the high retaining wall that would be required, the village would end up looking like Colditz.”

Another protester said that villagers were opposed to the application because they felt “it would damage the centre of the village forever”.

Mr Robertson and his wife Margaret were stunned by the decision.

Mrs Robertson said many members of the committee did not attend the meeting, leaving just nine councillors to vote on the issue.

Mrs Robertson said that she and her husband may now appeal against the decision after councillors divided 5-4 against the plan.

“Our application has been recommended for approval three times, so we were very amazed when it was voted down,” she said.

“It was one of the biggest planning meetings to be held in the borough for years and yet only nine councillors turned up to vote.”