Earlham House businesses begin petition against developers move to block off alleyway to sheltered housing

Businesses and families are protesting at a developer's plan to block off an alleyway linking a sheltered housing complex to shops.

The alleyway, which runs between sheltered housing Bately Court off Earlham Road, and Earlham House, is due to be bricked over by developer Hackwood Homes who are revamping flats at the site.

Graham Snowley from Hackwood Homes said blocking off the access would bring a lot of benefits, but people using the alleyway claim they were given no warning about the work, which was not included in planning notices.

Francis Yelin, who owns Sri Lankan food shop Kuzma near the pathway, collected 200 signatures for a petition against the plan on Sunday afternoon.

He said: 'I want to get the path established as a right of way.

'It is an outrageous thing to do because of the sheltered housing.'

Maps included in the planning application by owners Bellgold Properties to refurbish the flats above the shops show the path being blocked off.

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But no mention of the work was made in the application's proposal.

One resident of Bately Court said they found out about the plans by accident.

Vic Sarre, 64, said: 'It will affect the elderly people here. It has been a walk through ever since the building has been there.'

Jonathon Brackenbury, 60, who lives in Bately Court, said the alleyway was the only safe way for people living in Bately Court to reach the Earlham House shops.

But Mr Snowley said: 'It has been part of our planning consent for some time.

'The information has been in the public domain.

'We need the space for equipment for the flats. There is also a security issue.

'People are moaning that there is noise from the take-aways at night. If we take that access away there will be some positives.'

A spokeswoman for the city council said: 'The proposed plans did show external doors on both the east and west side of this alleyway and so permission has been granted for this.

'As the alleyway is on private land, there are alternative routes and this is not an established right of way, the council would have had little cause to refuse permission.'