Widower fighting to save River Tud valley view from housing developers

Residents around the Tud Valley in Costessey are angry at proposed housing development plans. Valley

Residents around the Tud Valley in Costessey are angry at proposed housing development plans. Valley View Crescent resident Geoff Hook in his garden with the valley behind him. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

It has been an unspoilt natural valley for many years.

Residents around the Tud Valley in Costessey are angry at proposed housing development plans. Valley

Residents around the Tud Valley in Costessey are angry at proposed housing development plans. Valley View Crescent resident Geoff Hook in his garden with the valley behind him. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

But a retired Costessey widower, who enjoys an uninterrupted view of the River Tud valley, is fighting to save the green space which could have 83 homes built on it in memory of his late wife.

Geoff Hook, 73, moved into his newly-built Valley View Crescent home in New Costessey, with his young family during the Christmas of 1978.

His wife, Stephanie, died of cancer in November 2015 aged 68.

Mr Hook, who is a member of the Farmland Road Action Group (FRAG) made up of Costessey residents against the proposed development, said: 'My wife loved that view. That is why I wanted to build this house. That is why she would never move from here.

Residents around the Tud Valley in Costessey are angry at proposed housing development plans. Valley

Residents around the Tud Valley in Costessey are angry at proposed housing development plans. Valley View Crescent resident Geoff Hook in his garden with the valley behind him. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017


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'It is worrying me about the planning application. I cannot sleep because it is such a worry.

'I'm fighting it because my wife said, 'Don't let them build on the land Geoff.' I'm determined to stop this.'

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The 73-year-old, who has three children and four grandchildren, added he wanted to bury his wife's ashes in their garden overlooking the valley but the delay in the planning decision has prevented him from doing that.

The application, put forward by Katrina Kozersky, for the 83 homes on Farmland Road, close to the River Tud, is similar to an application thrown out by South Norfolk Council in May 2016 because of its potential for 'unacceptable visual impact' on the chalk river valley landscape.

It has attracted 242 letters of objection and opposition from councillors and MPs and was deferred for discussion by the council's development management committee in July 2017 because of a FRAG-funded document opposing the application.

Adaptations to the latest application include natural screening.

But people against it have said the changes amounted to 'tinkering' and did not address previous concerns.

These include potential flood risks, harm to the River Tud valley's character and impact on local amenities including health services and schools.

Mr Hook said: 'My house was built here because I knew the valley would never be suitable for buildings because it was too wet.

'It is one of the last natural areas we have in Costessey. If you allow this, it will open up the field gates to other developers.'

Costessey history

Costessey lies in the valleys of the Rivers Wensum and Tud and used to be a marshy area.

It is now divided into Old Costessey, which sits on the old village settlement, and New Costessey, which has developed since the 1920s from a few homes.

The settlement is referred to as Costeseia in the 1086 Domesday Book.

During the historic feudal system in the years following the Domesday Book, Costessey Manor was established and became the largest area of Norfolk land gifted by the reigning monarch.

This pattern continued until the early 1550s when Mary 1 granted the manor to Sir Henry Jerningham.

Costessey Hall, on the estate, was originally a manor in 1066 but was expanded into a large Gothic castle for Lord Stafford Jerningham between 1826 and 1836.

The house was demolished in 1925 and the only part that remains is the belfry on Costessey Park Golf Course.

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