December 9 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Angry residents say they were not informed of a consultation exercise which could lead to a new housing estate being built on fields behind their homes.
West Norfolk council is inviting comments on its Detailed Policies and Sites Plan. The document sets out which areas of land should be earmarked for development, to acommodate the 16,500 new homes officials say are needed by 2026, to house the area’s growing population.
Three-hundred of them are proposed for Downham Market, with the sites plan suggesting land between Broomhill, on the north of the town, and Wimbotsham as a possible location. A consultation began on July 29 and runs until October 4.
But Kelvin Robinson and Sam Loveday, whose house on Broomhill backs onto the site, say neither they or their neighbours had been told about the proposals or the consultation over them.
“I was totally unaware of a proposal to build a vast development of houses behind my own house until a friend who works at the council happened to mention it,” said Mr Robinson, a 50-year-old music teacher.
“Our neighbours were completely in the dark about it. Somebody should have put a leaflet through the door or something, it’s all about democracy.”
Jonathan Toye, who lives on Broomhill, said: “There’s been zero consultation about this, the first I heard about it was when someone from a neighbouring road rang me.
“We need all the agricultural land we can get, they should be using brownfield sites. Another reason against it is the wonderful amenity value, the view across the fields, across the Fens into the distance - once that’s gone, it’s gone.”
Mr Robinson and Ms Loveday have written to West Norfolk council, calling for the consultation to be extended, to ensure residents can have their say. The EDP put their concerns to the council but had not received a response prior to publication.
A public meeting is being held at The Chequers pub, at Wimbotsham, this Friday night (6.30pm).
Opponents say if the development went ahead, it would virtually link Wimbotsham to Downham.
Neighbour Norman Jeary, 90, who was born in the village and has lived in Broomhill for almost 40 years, said: “I think they should build on the other side towards the bypass up on the old aerodrome.”
Locals say the former RAF bomber station at Bexwell, home to wartime Lancaster squadrons, would be a more suitable location.
Charity consultant Ms Loveday said the area which could be lost, which was currently prime farmland, adjoining a wood, was rich in wildlife.
“There’s a lot of roe deer, there are adders and grass snakes, there are fabulous falcons,” she said.
Another neighbour added: “It’s all very well saying people need houses but they need feeding as well.
“I remember not so long ago looking online on Right Move and in this area there were 280 houses for sale, so why do they have to build more.”
Today, hundreds of people from Heacham are expected to attend when West Norfolk council’s planning committee meet to discuss plans for 200 houses and a care home on land between School Road and the A149.
The meeting, which begins at 10am, has been moved from the usual council chamber to the Town Hall, because of the numbers expected to attend.
Developers Broadland Housing and Townsfolk claim the development would help address the future needs of the village.
But a report to councillors, who have been recommended to oppose it, says the development, which includes a new access road off the A149, is “clearly contrary” to the council’s development plan.
It adds the scheme is “a considerable incursion into open countryside”, which the village does not have adequate services to support.
More than 300 attended a packed public meeting to rally opposition to the proposals, after the EDP revealed details of the development in April.