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Famous landscapes threatened after campaigners lose fight to save Gainsborough view

Landscapes made famous by some of Britain’s greatest artists are in danger from development, conservationists fear, after top judges gave the go ahead for 170 houses in countryside once painted by Sir Thomas Gainsborough.

The view from Abbas Hall, near Sudbury, Suffolk has remained relatively unspoilt since 1740 when it was painted by Sir Thomas in his masterpiece Cornard Wood.

But now a housing development could be built that will change the view drastically.

Persimmon Homes, a major housing developer, argue that the impact can be softened by tree planting.

Despite protests from the local community, the current owners of Abbas Hall and English Heritage, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, agreed that the development would not have a major environmental impact.

Yesterday (Fri) three appeal judges agreed that the views from Abbas Hall could be adequately protected by tree planting and the plans were “not of sufficient magnitude” to pose a major environmental threat.

The decision means that the development is now able to go ahead.

Michael Evans, Chairman of the Cornard Tye Residents’ Association, insisted the houses would have an alien “visual urbanising effect” on the historic landscape and ruin a view which has remained largely unchanged since Sir Thomas’ day.

Paul Miner of the Campaign to Protect Rural England feared the case would set a precedent for other landscapes to be damaged by development.

Near Cornard Wood electricity pylons threaten more landscape painted by Gainsborough in the Stour Valley. “Constable country” on the Essex/Suffolk border is also threatened by pylons.

Wind turbines are planned for hills above Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales, that was painted by JMW Turner.

More recently David Hockney, one of the most famous British artists of modern times, has complained that the Yorkshire wolds he likes to paint are in danger from wind farms.

Mr Miner said new planning rules under the National Planning Policy Framework, do not take landscape as seriously as previous laws.

He said CPRE are working with Government to try and strengthen the law before more important landscapes, including those painted by famous artists, are lost.

The Telegraph highlighted the risk in the new laws in The Hands off Our Land campaign.

“NPPF is not strong enough on landscape and there does need to be a further appreciation of landscapes in planning guidance,” he said.