Planner dubs plans for Norfolk beauty spot Billingford Lakes as ‘woolly’
06:07 13 May 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2012
A controversial countryside project has been delayed for a second time after a district planning chief branded the plans “woolly”.
Basil Todd’s proposals to create a visitor centre at Billingford Lakes went back before Breckland Council’s planning committee yesterday.
The owner of the site, north of Dereham, wants to turn an existing agricultural building into a display area, café, kitchen and toilets. He also plans to install 10 camping pods and seven timber lodges on the site.
Breckland’s planning committee deferred the application last month because they wanted to take a site visit.
But despite visiting the site on Friday, the members, including planning manager Paul Jackson, were left with a number of unanswered questions at yesterday’s meeting – and deferred the plans yet again.
During the meeting, it emerged Mr Todd planned to have up to 200 chickens on the site and spoke about fishing. He defended the application, however, saying he was not trying to “destroy” the site and wanted members of the public and children to enjoy the wildlife and natural habitat.
Mr Jackson described the application as “woolly”. He said: “There is a sense that this is being made up as it’s going along, that’s the view I’ve got. We need some direct answers and I don’t think we can bring this matter back until we have those answers to the questions.”
Planning committee chairman Nigel Wilkin said “There are a lot of unanswered questions still. I’d like to defer this application again because we are still in a situation where we can’t finalise this application.”
The application has attracted 82 letters of objection and yesterday saw representatives from Billingford and Swanton Morley parish councils and Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting speak against the proposals.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Todd said the deferral was “ridiculous”. “I’m not going to destroy the site,” he said. “It was a pig farm before and devoid of wildlife, I’ve rectified that and we have kingfishers, terns, owls.”
He said they needed the visitor centre to support the work they were doing at the site, not for profit.
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