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Fears dark skies in Norfolk village could be lost to housing plans

PUBLISHED: 14:22 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:26 20 September 2018

Astronomers are concerned plans for new housing in Great Ellingham could cause light poluution. Picture: Ian Burt

Astronomers are concerned plans for new housing in Great Ellingham could cause light poluution. Picture: Ian Burt

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Plans for a major housing development in a part of Norfolk boasting some of the UK’s darkest skies have left amateur astronomers fearing it will blot out their view of the stars.

The Milky Way photographed by Dan Self from Breckland Astronomical Society. Picture: Dan SelfThe Milky Way photographed by Dan Self from Breckland Astronomical Society. Picture: Dan Self

Flagship Housing wants to build 95 new homes on land off Hingham Road and Attleborough Road on the edge of Great Ellingham.

The village is home to the observatory of Breckland Astronomical Society and images of nebulas, galaxies, comets and planets captured from their telescope have seen the location awarded the status of Milky Way Dark Sky Discovery Site.

The Breckland Astronomical Society observatory is located in Great Ellingham. Picture: Breckland AstroThe Breckland Astronomical Society observatory is located in Great Ellingham. Picture: Breckland Astro

The plans, which would include 24 social housing homes, as well as 17 two-bedroom, 20 three-bed and 34 four-bed properties, have prompted the group and others to express concerns over the potential impact of light pollution.

In a submission to Breckland Council, Dr Dan Self, the group’s chairman, said: “Due to this site being rural outside settlement boundary and a dark sky discovery site we would require all building including the construction phase to be done with strict lighting conditions in order to accept any large application.

The land in Great Ellingham that new homes would be built on under plans submitted by Flagship Housing. Picture: GoogleThe land in Great Ellingham that new homes would be built on under plans submitted by Flagship Housing. Picture: Google

“Streetlights are out of the question, also property lights, any highway lights are not necessary in a village that has functioned well without them.”

The group, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is one of a number of people urging planners to impose light pollution measures including shielding, curfews and limits on the intensity of outside lights.

Flagship Housing has submitted plans to build 95 new homes on land in Great Ellingham. Picture: Breckland Council/Richard Pike AssociatesFlagship Housing has submitted plans to build 95 new homes on land in Great Ellingham. Picture: Breckland Council/Richard Pike Associates

Chris Greenfield, of Orchard Way in Wymondham, said: “I’d suggest that conditions be imposed on all the properties to ensure that the dark sky is preserved. No streetlights and conditions extending to any possible future plans to install lights in gardens and security lights now, and on any later extensions to the properties.”

Concerns have also been expressed over the potential impact of the development on local services.

Flagship Housing has submitted plans to build 95 new homes on land in Great Ellingham. Picture: Breckland Council/Richard Pike AssociatesFlagship Housing has submitted plans to build 95 new homes on land in Great Ellingham. Picture: Breckland Council/Richard Pike Associates

Louise Hollis-Keogh, of Mill Lane in Great Ellingham, said: “At 92 houses it would increase the size of the village by a fifth - this would alter the profile of the village - it is also way beyond what the infrastructure can manage.

“Those of us who live in the village have chosen to live in a village with dark village status not in a suburb of Attleborough.”

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