By BEN WOODS
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Campaigners fighting plans to build new houses in Reydon for people whose homes are threatened by coastal erosion are urging anyone with concerns about the proposals to make their voices heard.
Nine new properties could be built on land at Rissmere Lane East, under plans submitted as part of the ground-breaking Waveney Pathfinder Project to help families in erosion-threatened Easton Bavents and Corton.
But the plans have met fierce opposition, amid concerns that the Reydon Smear – a popular area for walkers and wildlife which is also known locally as The Smere – could be harmed by the proposed development.
The newly-formed Save the Smere group wants to attract as many people as possible to a public meeting at Reydon Youth Club next week in a bid to block the application made by Waveney District Council.
The council has already extended a public consultation period over the proposals after its planning documents came under fire for being too small and inaccessible, and people now have until 12pm on September 10 to comment, or take part in the meeting at the youth club on Wangford Road on Thursday from 7.30pm If approved, the application for outline planning permission would pave the way for the new homes to be built.
This week, Robert Kelsey, one of the campaigners trying to protect Reydon Smear, urged people to attend the public meeting.
He said: “We want the process to be out in the open so, even if we cannot save The Smear, the process has at least been done in a democratic way and has come to the right solution. We do not want a development on our doorstep. The Smear is an area where people walk their dogs and is part of a coastal pathway.”
He added: “I do not understand the way the Pathfinder people have gone about this. Why couldn’t they have given the householders at Easton Bavents money instead? Then they would have had the right to choose where to go.”
Waveney District Council launched its two-week public consultation on the plans on July 25.
But the consultation documents displayed at Southwold Library were criticised as being inaccessible and too small for people to read.
Reydon Parish Council also expressed its concerns when its members discovered they would not be able to discuss the plans because they were not scheduled to meet again during August.
Amid mounting pressure from the parish council and villagers, the district council agreed to extend the original consultation period by several weeks to give people more time to air their views.
David Ritchie, Waveney’s cabinet member for planning and coastal management, stressed that the application was only seeking outline planning permission. He said: “The thing to emphasise is that there are no formal plans. This is not about what the homes would look like or where exactly they’d be, but about whether people support the principle of using this site for those whose homes will otherwise be lost to the sea.”
The £1.5m Pathfinder scheme, a government-funded iniative, was approved in January last year.
The Waveney Pathfinder Project sets down a land rights transfer policy which allows people living in Easton Bavents and Corton, whose homes are under threat from the encroaching North Sea, to relocate to safe sites further inland and build similar properties under the same planning permission.
But since Waveney submitted the application, seeking outline permission for the nine homes in Reydon, leaflets and posters have been circulated in the village encouraging people to fight the development and help protect the The Smear, which is located behind Rissemere Lane and adjoins the Benacre National Nature Reserve.
The outline planning permission applied for by the district council in Reydon would establish that land can be developed, but further detailed planning consent would be needed before any properties could be built.
Visit www.waveney.gov.uk/pathfinder or Southwold Library for details.