Planner dubs plans for Norfolk beauty spot Billingford Lakes as ‘woolly’

Basil Todd, owner of Billingford Lakes, has withdrawn his planning application to turn the lakes in to a caravan park and wildlife area. Picture; Matthew Usher. Basil Todd, owner of Billingford Lakes, has withdrawn his planning application to turn the lakes in to a caravan park and wildlife area. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
6:07 AM

A controversial countryside project has been delayed for a second time after a district planning chief branded the plans “woolly”.

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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.

Are you fighting a planning application? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk.

2 comments

  • Well , the initial creation of ruddy great gravel pits in the lovely meadows wasnt the best thing for wild life in the first place was it? Wonder which council and planners gave permission for them over the years? Of course the current planners are right to demand exact plans and just because an area was wrecked by extraction is no reason to exploit it as a tourist business, same applies to all gravel pits-the emphasis should be on returning the valley to a state as good or better than it was. Otters were here ( or just along stream) when I was a kid.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

  • Everything Basil does is 'wooly' he hasn't exactly covered himself in glory in the past has he?

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    John L Norton

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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