December 11 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Campaigners are warning that a beauty spot in Reydon is not safe from development as long as it remains on a list of potential sites to rebuild homes lost to coastal erosion.
Land off Rissemere Lane East is among eight sites currently being considered for development under the Waveney Pathfinder project.
The scheme is seeking land in Reydon to build up to five new homes to replace properties affected by coastal erosion at Easton Bavents.
Concerned local residents launched a Save the Smere campaign when the project’s plans were first made public last year.
They feared the construction of homes would ruin the nearby Reydon Smere – a popular area for walkers and birdwatchers.
There was cause for celebration in March when the Pathfinder project announced it would look at relocating people from Easton Bavents to multiple sites in Reydon rather than focusing on a single large site – potentially saving the Smere from development.
However, despite strong local opposition, the beauty spot has remained on the shortlist of sites and opponents are calling for it to be removed altogether.
The £1,5m Waveney Pathfinder project was launched in 2009 with Government funding to tackle the blight of coastal erosion at Easton Bavents and Corton.
It was due to finish at the end of last month but is funded to continue until the end of this year.
A Pathfinder spokesman said land of Rissemere Lane East remained under consideration because it met the criteria for the project and, while local concerns were understandable, the Pathfinder board must still consider it.
He said the board did not have the power to impose development and objections would be taken into account if a planning application was submitted.
Reydon parish councillor Ted Drake, who attended the most recent Pathfinder meeting in August, said the parish council was concerned about the situation and was not confident that the site would escape development.
He said: “We would not be in favour of development there. There are other sites in Reydon that are more appropriate in Reydon than the Smere.
“We don’t really see the case that has been made out for the Smere and don’t really understand why it is being talked about so much when there are other places in Reydon that could take it.”
Mr Drake said Rissemere Lane East was a narrow lane and shortlisted sites near the three main roads into the village would be more appropriate.
He added: “It is a quiet, peaceful, rural spot. There is a very calming atmosphere there, which will inevitably be consumed if building was permitted in that part of the village.”
Robert Kelsey, a member of the Save the Smere campaign, said: “This affects quite a wide group of people. It is not just people who live near the Smere but also people that want to save a special place.
“It should have never been considered as part of this and was only considered by planning consultants that didn’t know the area.”
Mr Kelsey said Reydon residents regarded the Smere in the same way Southwold felt about its common and developing the site would ruin the whole feel of the area, which is on a national coastal path and cycle route and is regularly enjoyed by dog walkers, birdwatchers and cyclists.
John Perkins, spokesman for the Southwold and Reydon Society, said society members were also keen to see Rissemere Lane East removed from the list of potential sites.
He said there were concerns that building houses on the beauty spot would open the floodgates for further development.
A spokesman for the Pathfinder project said: “The Pathfinder board remains confident that a solution to various issues will be found. However, as has been repeated on many occasions, this is a pilot project, funded by the Government and the work must, by its very nature, be painstaking and very carefully considered.
“The concerns raised by residents close to proposed sites have already been addressed and discussed with them at great length during the last year. “Much of this dialogue followed the wide-ranging review of the project, which was, in part, initiated because of concerns raised by local stakeholders.
“Specific locations remain under consideration at this stage because they may meet the criteria of the project. Although local opposition to development is understandable, the Pathfinder board must consider all relevant and important matters.
“Additionally, the board has been at pains to point out that the identification of a possible site does not mean the board have the power to impose development.
“Any advice we have received is wholly removed from the decision making process which would only take place if a planning application is submitted. At that point, planning objections will also be taken into account.”
The Pathfinder project is seeking to relocate five homes, including three belonging to Easton Bavents Ltd.
It is currently in negotiations with Easton Bavents Ltd to relocate three of the properties on the company’s own land. The remaining two properties would be relocated to either one or two sites in the village.