Controversy as Aylsham homes and football pitch plans get green light

A major homes and football development on the edge of Aylsham has been given the green light by councillors - but opponents have warned they intend to seek a judicial review into that decision.

Youngs Farms, run by the family of England rugby star Ben Youngs, are behind a scheme at Woodgate Farm, which would see 250 homes, 10 football pitches and a clubhouse built on farmland off Cawston Road.

The Youngs are 'gifting' 20 acres to be used by Aylsham Football club and other community organisations, while providing �500,000 to the club to kick-start building.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of Broadland District Council planning committee today, where councillors considered whether the community benefits from the scheme outweighed the fact the site is outside the town development area.

Officers told councillors that the football club had written to a number of landowners looking for help to expand and that the offer from the Youngs was the best received.

However, representatives from Welbeck Land and Norfolk Homes objected to the proposal. A spokesman for Norfolk Homes said they had not been approached by the club.

He also said his client would not be allowing part of Marriott's Way, which crosses land owned by Norfolk Homes, to be used as access for pedestrian and cyclist access to the new development.

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However, county council officers said, if Norfolk Homes did take that approach, an alternative route could still be found.

But Erik Pagado, from Welbeck Land, said: 'It's the wrong scheme in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our solicitor wrote to Broadland District Council on October 7 saying that members do not have the relevant information for consideration of the application.

'I confirm our complaint will be referred to the ombudsman and a judicial review sought.'

The meeting heard 261 representations had been received supporting the scheme, with 34 against, along with a 110-signature petition.

Eileen Springall, chairman of Aylsham Town Council, spoke in support of the scheme and of the football club's efforts.

She said: 'The town council opinion is that those people should be applauded and rewarded for their support.'

Ian Graham, who represents Aylsham on Broadland District Council, echoed her support. He said: 'For too long, residents of Aylsham have complained, quite rightly, that there are not enough facilities for youngsters and now we have a great opportunity to solve that problem.'

The committee was unanimous in agreeing to delegate authority to the head of planning to approve the scheme, subject to conditions and the conclusion of negotiations over developer contributions.