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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Village votes to halt sprawl
View over East Coker, Somerset
Ninety-six per cent voted in favour of keeping open fields
People living in a picturesque Somerset village have voted overwhelmingly to fight urban sprawl.

The residents of East Coker, made famous by the poet TS Eliot, held a parish referendum under a little-used piece of historic legislation.

There was a turnout of 86.4% with 1,243 in favour of preserving grade one agricultural land around the village, and 46 against.

The motion said there should be no change of use for the next 15 years.

Vicar of Dibley

Developers see the land as an ideal place for a new housing development, but planners will now have to take the villagers' views into account when considering proposals.

Residents of East Coker want to stop the nearby town of Yeovil spreading into the open fields around their homes.

Stan Turner, chairman of East Coker Parish Council, said: "We want our heritage, our village, kept separate."

East Coker was much loved by the poet TS Eliot, whose ashes are buried in the local churchyard.

The village is featured in his work The Four Quartets.

The campaign to halt development is supported by its most well-known current resident, Trevor Peacock, who starred as bumbling church councillor Jim in the Vicar of Dibley.

He added his comedy catchphrase on East Coker posters proclaiming: "Trevor Peacock says no - no - no - no - no -YES to the referendum."



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