98-homes plan for Gorleston riverside industrial site

A NEW �25m vision of riverside living in Gorleston could be worth many times more to the local economy and resolve frustration over a redundant brownfield site.

Developers hope they have anticipated every possible pitfall to their 98-home scheme for industrial Riverside Road, and buried the spectre of the failed 'Docklands' apartment saga.

Site notices will go up today for the latest scheme which proposes a mix of housing spanning small flats for around �85,000 and four bedroom family homes which could achieve up to �165,000.

Planners now have 13 weeks to gauge local and statutory opinion and make up their minds.

Paul Pitcher of Lowestoft-based Wellington Construction which is co-ordinating the scheme said the plans had evolved over two years with input from local people whose views had lead to major changes including switching a terrace of homes below Blackwall Reach to open space.

He said every care had been taken to assemble a scheme that would satisfy residential and commercial needs with a noise buffer zone comprising 28,000sq ft of plush new office space retaining an employment element and shielding people from the harbour hubbub.

Businessman Terry Hall is behind the scheme on the footprint of his five acre builder's merchant site which went into administration last year.

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A previous effort launched in 2004 for 319 homes in a dozen high-rise blocks won planning approval against officer advice, only to run into trouble at a higher level and was eventually withdrawn.

Now a new team which also involves Ian Sinclair in a consultant's role is confident of having drawn up a 'superb' scheme for much needed housing that can be delivered quickly, boost Gorleston High Street and help the borough meet its tough housing targets by 2015.

Mr Sinclair added that the scheme had an 'exciting' riverside frontage with more traditional cottage-style housing nestling nicely with what was already there.

'As a proposal and concept we feel it is good for Gorleston. The site looks so sad. We have spent the last two years fairly discreetly meeting with people and answering their questions in bid to minimise their objections when the plans went in,' Mr Sinclair said.

Mr Sinclair added that the scheme as well as providing up to �25m of housing and office stock would be well placed to take advantage of the �42bn of windfarm work and generate a 'phenomenal' amount in spin off benefits to the local economy.

Harbour noise, including the low rumble of boat engines and beeping forklifts, might detract from the appeal of riverside living and possibly limit the activities of the port if enough people complained had been taken into account with robust glazing and innovative ventilation.

'People have lived with the harbour noise for hundreds of years and some people love it for all of that,' he added.

Meanwhile the 'Docklands' scheme, had it gone ahead, would probably have failed to live up to its high-rise ideals given the slump in the property market, similar blocks in Ipswich sitting unfinished.

Local people were invited to view layouts and elevations at a public meeting in June. Forty people attended, 11 of whom filled out feedback forms.

Earlier concerns included the loss of industrial land and the wisdom of putting homes close to a busy port where activity was likely to increase in the future.

Peter Warner, head of planning policy at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the plans would be advertised from today.

'We would want comments from the public both for and against so we can take a balanced recommendation in late March or April,' he added.

The plans can be viewed at the town hall or online quoting reference number 06/12/0061/0.

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