Controversial Costessey homes plan rejected

Controversial plans for 70 new homes near an area of Costessey woodland were narrowly refused by councillors following more than two hours of debate.

Residents who live close to the proposed development site in Townhouse Road applauded as the application by Green and Norwich Consolidated Charities was rejected at a meeting of South Norfolk Council's planning committee today.

Outline permission had been requested for the new homes on a 2.5 ha (about 6.2 acres) plot next to Carrs Hill Wood, which sits in the Tud Valley, as well as a new access which would involve the removal of about 120m of hedgerow.

Despite the application contravening several of the council's own planning policies, officers had recommended the proposals for approval in the light that the district is lacking a five year land supply for residential developments as stipulated by central government.

But more than 40 letters of objection from local residents were lodged against the plans, while the owners of the wood and Costessey Parish Council also strongly opposed the proposals.

Dozens of residents had attended a site visit undertaken by planning committee members last week in protest to the application.

Vivienne Bell, chairman of the parish council, said: 'The damage that this development will create in the area to local wildlife and the desecration of hedging in Townhouse Road will change the character and landscape of this area forever.'

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District councillor Tim East, who represents Costessey, and nearby resident John Newby, who spoke on behalf of 52 protesting households, also raised concerns about its affect on the gap between Old and New Costessey and the site's sustainability. They also claimed the application was a 'blatant attempt to leapfrog' ongoing public consultations which will help determine where thousands of new homes will be built across the district over the next 15 years.

But Isabel Lockwood, of planning consultants Bidwells who represented the applicant, denied the site was unsustainable and said the hedgerow had been classified as 'unimportant'.

She added that a 15m buffer zone would be established between the development and the woodland to protect tree roots and claimed that as access to the area was already provided for local horse riders, the owners' duty of care towards maintaining the trees would not increase because of the neighbouring homes.