The developer behind a house-building plan on the former Norfolk cricket ground has rebutted vociferous local objections about loss of open space and a historic pavilion.

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Serruys Property Company, which owns the Lakenham cricket ground, has applied to Norwich City Council to build 75 houses at the site, as well as a five-a-side football pitch and playgrounds.

A newly-formed residents’ association met for the first time on Thursday to galvanise local opposition to the proposals, with objectors fearing a loss of public open space and parking issues.

There was also concern over the planned demolition of the thatched pavilion opened in 1936 by Russell Colman, then the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.

Another member of the Colman family who has held the position of Lord Lieutenant, Sir Timothy Colman, wrote a letter to the association which says: “I wish every success to the newly-formed Lakenham Cricket Ground Residents’ Association, but despite being four square behind your efforts I cannot, alas, do anything to add weight to the arguments you are so eloquently expressing.

“This has been a valuable green open space in Norwich for over 150 years and the city, I fear, will be a poorer place if the area is lost.”

But the developers insisted the proposals would increase public access to the private land, and that the pavilion was in such poor condition that it could not be retained and converted.

Philip Atkinson of planning consultants Lanpro said: “The local residents concerns relate to the loss of publicly accessible open space. To be clear the land is private and no public access to the site currently exists.

“In our opinion the retention of the site as private under-used land benefits neither the owner or local people.

“The amended scheme design has been prepared to maximise the site’s development potential and to deliver large areas of open space and allotments for use by local and future residents.

“We believe the scheme design strikes a very good balance between meeting the city’s housing needs on land with good access to public transport routes and local shops and services whilst delivering real public benefits.”

A revised site layout was submitted on Friday to “address outstanding design issues”.

Richard Cubitt at Serruys Property Company said: “With regard to the former cricket pavilion building, although secure, it is in a very sorry state of repair.

“In our opinion the internal floor layout within the building is not suitable for conversion to an alternative use. Indeed the building was offered at nil cost to a local charity for use as a headquarters in 2011 as part of the earlier version of the submitted scheme.

“After detailed consideration the charity declined the offer on the basis that the building was too expensive to repair and convert.”

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