Neighbours’ misery over Thorpe Island development
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Neighbours have today told of their eight year nightmare living opposite a riverside 'shanty town'.
Thorpe Island has been at the centre of a long legal battle over its planning rights, with a decision made yesterday to take out a court injunction against its landowner Roger Wood.
Now those living opposite the seven-acre site on the River Yare have spoken out about their misery.
Jeremy Clarke, 42, moved to his Grade II listed river fronted property on Yarmouth Road with his partner Christopher Cooper in 2006 to enjoy the mix of Norwich and the Broads.
But he said the site soon became 'an utter shambles', forcing the pair to live with their blinds closed and in constant fear.
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'Disruption regularly includes hammering and sawing, boats and quay heading being worked on, guns being fired and music being played at all hours,' the IT business owner said.
'Our privacy and peace have been violated, while someone feet away has continued to develop. The last eight years have been ruined for us and our neighbours, and time at home is constantly disturbed by activities opposite our homes.'
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The Broads Authority says the moored boats, jetties, pontoons and a container in a basin on the western end of the island need planning permission and cannot – as Mr Wood argues – rely on the historic consent given to a previous owner for a marina.
The case, which dates back to when the site was bought in 2007, has been before two planning inspectors already, with a High Court judge earlier this month deeming the development unlawful.
Mr Wood maintains that he does have planning permission and told the committee yesterday that the people of Norwich supported his work because they needed more space to moor their boats.
He said: '[We are] people with a slightly different way of life to them and they think we are strange. It's nonsense.'
Yet in a sign of the significance of the case, Broads Authority chairman Jacquie Burgess branded the site a 'shanty town' at the heated planning committee meeting.
And the authority's head of planning, Cally Smith, said action must be taken, or reputational damage and the incentive to apply for planning permission are at stake.
She said: 'If someone continues to flout the planning regulations, we have a responsibility to deal with that. If we don't, we run serious risk of reputation damage – there would be no incentive for other people to apply.'
Many neighbours were at the meeting to hear the committee unanimously give permission to seek a court injunction for areas both within the enforcement notice remit and other areas of the site. It is, however, pending the decision over whether Mr Wood can appeal the High Court's ruling.
While Mr Clarke and Mr Cooper have already spent around £80,000 in legal fees, Trevor and Gill Warren, who also live opposite the site, said the situation had descended into 'anarchy'.
Mrs Warren, 82, said: 'We really want the planning laws upheld. This whole thing has been a massive irritant. We don't know what is going to happen next and it is simply not right.'
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