December 7 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Campaigners have been left “bitterly disappointed” after planning permission was given for 125 homes to be built in their village.
Around 40 people from Horsford, to the north-west of Norwich, attended a meeting of Broadland District Council’s planning committee yesterday.
Following several passionate speeches and a debate which lasted over two hours, the vote went in favour of David Wilson Homes, which had applied to build the homes at Sharps Hall Farm, in Mill Lane.
The campaigners had been hoping to persuade councillors that the already busy Mill Lane would not be able to handle any more traffic, with Horsford Junior School based in the dead-end road.
Kevin O’Gorman, one of the organisers of the campaign group, said: “I think everybody can see we put up an extremely good fight but we are bitterly disappointed with the final decision, and I think some of the councillors were unbelievably insensitive to the impact this going to have on the quality of some of our lives.”
Mr O’Gorman said he and many of the campaigners now fear the rural land surrounding Sharps Hall Farm will also be developed, adding: “The big worry now is that this will be the first phase of other development.”
About 150 worried villagers had packed out a Horsford Parish Council meeting in June and more than 200 letters of objection were registered with Broadland District Council.
But the campaigners feared even if they successfully persuaded the committee to reject the plans, the 125 homes would still be built.
Those fears were based on a planning decision for 175 homes in Blofield earlier this year, when a Broadland planning committee rejection was overruled on appeal.
In March a planning inspector disagreed with Broadland’s reasons for refusal and agreed with the developers’ appeal that there was a shortfall of housing land over the next five years in the Broadland area.
Despite the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) – a blueprint for where 37,000 houses should be built in the Greater Norwich area through to 2026 – referring to about 50 homes for Blofield, the inspector said the JCS also said key settlements within the area may be considered for extra housing.
He said Broadland’s policies could not be considered up-to-date, so the presumption in favour of sustainable development took precedence.
The JCS identifies Horsford as one of 60 service villages which are appropriate for residential developments of between 10 and 20 houses.
Broadland held a public consultation during July and August for its site allocations development plan, as it tries to meet its JCS allocation for 9,000 homes for Broadland by 2026.
However, this consultation was not for the 7,000 homes included in the Growth Triangle covering Old Catton, Sprowston, Rackheath and Thorpe St Andrew, but for the remaining 2,000 around the district.
This included for between 800 and 1,000 homes in Hellesdon, 250 homes in Aylsham and 200 in Drayton.
For Horsford the proposal was for land at Pinelands, off Holt Road, being allocated for 63 homes and employment use, some of which have already been built.
There are also 15 affordable homes being built to the south of the village, alongside the Dog Inn, which do not contribute to the JCS allocations because the development is 100pc affordable housing.
The shadow of that appeal decision loomed large in Broadland’s council chamber yesterday, with several councillors saying they doubted they could prevent the same thing happening again.
Peter Balcombe, Liberal Democrat district councillor for Hellesdon South East had appealed for the committee to turn the plans down, saying: “We should show a bit of backbone as a committee and say no.”
He received a big round of applause from the public gallery but Ian Graham, Conservative district councillor for Aylsham, asked Broadland’s head of planning, Phil Courtier, how much the planning inspector’s decision over the 175 homes in Blofield had influenced his officers’ thinking.
Mr Courtier replied: “We are very mindful of that casework as there are many similarities between that application and this application, so you have to be mindful, and you have to say, is there a case to defend this one application if it is given refusal?
“In my opinion, we would very much struggle against an appeal because of our lack of five-year housing supply.”
Mr Graham said: “I have always been a great supporter of the JCS, I voted for it and I worked on various committees for it. Sadly because of the legal challenge to the JCS from the people at Snub (Stop Norwich Urbanisation) etc, we are in a muddle.
“If that hadn’t gone to court we would have had enough homes allocated and the problems we have now at Horsford would not be a problem.”
The plans include 39 affordable homes, of which two would be wheelchair-adaptable bungalows, as well as £35,000 going to Horsford Junior School to provide a parking, drop off and pick up scheme within the school’s forecourt
The planning committee voted through the recommendation to delegate authority to the council’s head of authority to approve the plans, subject to the agreement of final details.
A raft of planning conditions will need to be agreed before building begins, which councillors said must be within two years of those conditions being agreed.
These include road widening and new parking bays in Mill Road, which councillors said must be completed before any building work on the housing site can be started.
Peter Biggs, head of planning at David Wilson Homes, said: “We welcome the decision reached by the planning committee to approve this application. This scheme is one that provides many benefits to the village like affordable housing and significant contributions to local infrastructure such as highways improvements to Mill Lane.
“We are pleased that Broadland District Council members have agreed with their planning officers by giving the go ahead to this development and David Wilson Homes’ looks forward to now delivering this scheme in Horsford.”
FOR (nine): Conservatives; Michael Snowling (Brundall), Roger Foulger (Drayton South), Paul Carrick (Hevingham), David Ward (Burlingham), Paul Findlay (Sprowston East), Kenneth Leggett (Old Catton and Sprowston West), Shaun Vincent (Plumstead), Lana Hempsall (Acle), Robin Knowles (Sprowston Central).
AGAINST (six): Conservatives; Ian Graham (Aylsham), Claudette Bannock (Taverham South). Lib Dem; Carole Ward (Taverham North), Steve Buckle (Wroxham), Brenda Rix (Buxton), Peter Balcmobe (Hellesdon South East).