Brothers Declare War Over New Town

PUBLISHED: 13:56 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 13:23 04 May 2010

Rob Sampson with pony Music.

Rob Sampson with pony Music.

TWO brothers are honouring their father s legacy and refusing to hand over his land for the Mereham new town project at Wilburton. Stephen and James Everitt have told international developer, Multiplex, that the five-acre plot is not for sale. They inheri

TWO brothers are honouring their father's legacy and refusing to hand over his land for the Mereham new town project at Wilburton.

Stephen and James Everitt have told international developer, Multiplex, that the five-acre plot is not for sale.

They inherited the farm land when their father, former television director Richard Everitt, died two years ago.

Mr Everitt, who had worked on top television shows Coronation Street and Lovejoy, had rejected offers of cash from Australian company, Multiplex, to sell the land for housing.

"He was very particular that it wouldn't fall into the hands of Multiplex," Stephen told the Ely Standard. "He had lived in Wilburton as a lad and, if the land were to be developed, he wanted it done sympathetically. We want to honour that legacy.

"My dad was a very cynical old man and he saw a good reason why he shouldn't sell to Multiplex and that is good enough for us."

The brothers, who live in Yorkshire, haven't ruled out the possibility of developing the land in the future but want to ensure they keep control of any building project.

Their father, who spent most of his working life in Manchester but is buried in Wilburton cemetery, inherited the land from his father who ran a 100-acre poultry farm.

Currently it is rented to a village farmer who pays a peppercorn rent to the brothers to grow wheat on the land.

Wilburton villager Rob Sampson is also refusing to sell his two-and-a-half acres of pony paddock to the developers.

Originally he was prepared to swap the land for a similar piece elsewhere in the village because he feared other landowners were selling and his land would be "boxed in" by housing.

But Multiplex rejected the idea and, when Rob discovered his neighbours were holding out against the company, he decided not to sell up.

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Rob, who has been riding since he was eight, searched for years to find the perfect setting for his two ponies, called Music and Bracken, and even moved home to secure a suitable piece of land.

He said from his home in Millfield Lane: "I am not prepared to sell. I don't want to know. Multiplex is offering £20,000 per acre. Elsewhere building land is going for £80,000 an acre. How can they offer so little?

"But I'm not holding out for the money. I know people have to live somewhere but we would lose our wonderful country views. I go down to the land twice and day and I don't want to give up that. Riding is a big part of life for my wife and I."

Wilburton farmer Keith Ladson, who owns 100 acres of land earmarked for two schools and housing on the Mereham plan, has also told Multiplex he is not selling.

The project for a major new town between Wilburton and Stretham, including up to 8,000 new homes, schools, leisure facilities and industrial space, has been rejected by East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Campaigners feared the scheme would spoil their villages and lead to traffic gridlock throughout the district.

Multiplex plans to lodge an appeal with the Government against the council's refusal and campaigners fear the company wants to see the land earmarked for building in the regional development plan.

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