By CHRIS HILL and REBECCA GOUGH
Thursday, January 31, 2013
A senior Hethersett parish councillor has resigned in frustration after his village’s concerns failed to prevent a developer’s bid to build more than 1,000 homes.
Gary Wyatt, who was chairman of Hethersett Parish Council’s planning committee, stepped down following South Norfolk Council’s decision to approve the controversial application on Wednesday.
Mr Wyatt said he felt that parish councils, however determined in their opposition, did not have the power to over-ride the house-building priorities of planning authorities.
“I felt I needed to make a stand,” he said. “I have absolutely no argument with Hethersett Parish Council – it is just the frustration with parish councils in general that we seem unable to influence anything that goes on.
“We are the people on the ground, and we know the reactions of people around us, but we seem impotent when it comes to something like this which will increase the size of this village by 50pc.
“This kind of thing makes a complete nonsense of the government’s idea of localism. We are the most local form of government, yet we have no influence or powers when it comes to the really big, important decisions that affect us.”
The Hethersett scheme includes 1,196 houses, road improvements, shops, businesses, a primary school and recreation area built, as well an extension to the Thickthorn park and ride.
Concerns included fears of a traffic increase, traffic congestion, a loss of character in the village and a possible extension of its boundaries into protected green space.
James Utting of Hethersett Our Way, which has been campaigning against the development, said the group would continue to oppose the scheme.
“We have consulted our professional planning consultant to see what options are available – we will maintain as much pressure against this inappropriate development as we are able,” he said.
“The application is wrong for many other reasons, but possibly our over-riding concern is that residents voices have been ignored and elected councillors, when provided with a good opportunity and strong grounds to stem the flow of unwelcome and unnecessary expansion, have favoured the development lobby – not the people they are there to represent.”
The plans were approved by South Norfolk’s development management committee, which imposed conditions including that no residential development could take place to the east of Burnthouse Lane until a “strategic gap” was agreed.
The scheme will be built in five phases, beginning in the middle and moving east towards the second phase and then west. It is expected to take between 10 and 12 years to complete.