New residents’ association vows to fight Lakenham cricket ground plans

A community's battle against housing proposals at a historic Norwich cricket ground has gathered pace with the formation of a new residents' association to oppose the scheme.

About 80 residents, local councillors and opponents gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Lakenham Cricket Ground Residents' Association, which was held last night at St Mark's Hall, on Hall Road.

The group has been founded to contest proposals to build 75 houses at the former Lakenham sports centre site, which used to be the home of Norfolk cricket in Cricket Ground Road.

Landowner Serruys Property Company submitted a revised application to Norwich City Council last month which includes a five-a-side football pitch and playgrounds. The developers say the project will create affordable housing, public allotments and construction jobs.

But the new residents' association hopes to pressure council decision-makers to retain the site as public open space, and to preserve the thatched pavilion opened in 1936 by Russell Colman, then the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.

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The association agreed its constitution and elected its committee, including chairman Terry Dunning, treasurer Yvonne Kelsey and secretary Julie Ann Moore.

They heard public concerns ranging from a loss of open space and the pavilion, an upsurge in crime, and parking problems – particularly on Geoffrey Road where householders fear they will no longer be able to park outside their homes if the street becomes an access road to the proposed development.

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Mr Dunning said: 'We hope the council will take notice of a strong and active residents' association.

'This (the cricket ground) was intended originally as a public open space – it has been declared an urban space, and we want to retain it as open space. We have got to keep fighting these plans. Until they come up with a plan that we approve of, we should keep up the pressure and not be bamboozled.'

Ms Kelsey said: 'Our councillors have urged us to start a residents' association to be the face of the residents and give feedback from whatever is being discussed. From discussions door to door we also know the Lakenham Cricket Club is an eyesore and many of you know that something needs to be done, but we want to achieve a compromise that could benefit the whole area.'

The number of planned homes has increased from the 65 which were originally proposed in November, and now include 50 open-market houses and 25 listed as affordable homes.

One resident at the meeting said: 'One of the reasons for the changing plans might be simply to wear down the willingness of the residents to oppose it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was an advised decision that if you put in one proposal and everybody opposes it, then you put a second one in and get away with it.'

Mr Dunning replied: 'With the number of people who are here tonight, we're proving that's not the case.'

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