Anger over approval for new homes with no provision for ‘pedestrian refuge’ in Spooner Row

Dispute about a housing development on School Lane at Spooner Row. Concerned residents Julian Halls

Dispute about a housing development on School Lane at Spooner Row. Concerned residents Julian Halls and Karen Dunn Hughes. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Campaigners are furious about a decision to green-light an application for seven new houses in a Norfolk village - along a stretch of narrow road where there is no hope of installing a footpath.

Dispute about a housing development on School Lane at Spooner Row. Concerned residents Julian Halls

Dispute about a housing development on School Lane at Spooner Row. Concerned residents Julian Halls and Karen Dunn Hughes. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

And they say the development in School Lane, Spooner Row, could even end up putting lives at risk.

The application to build the homes next to a recreation ground in School Lane was given planning approval by South Norfolk Council officers earlier this month.

But nearby resident Karen Dunn Hughes said the scheme should never have been agreed to.

She said: 'They have knowingly made a dangerous situation worse. Its a ludicrous site for development.'

The strip of homes will sit next to the village recreation ground, which itself borders the primary school. But there is not pathway between the school and the site of the new development - just a narrow road and grassy verge, which opponents fear will become congested and dangerous with the new homes.

The plan was granted approval at a committee meeting in February, on the condition that the highways concerns were addressed. However, although a solution has not yet been found, the scheme has been given the go-ahead anyway.

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Mrs Hughes said the scheme was contrary to the council's own Local Plan, which said some kind of 'pedestrian refuge', for example, a footpath, must be included.

And John Peacock, chairman of the group Norfolk Living Streets, also criticised the council, saying: 'It has ignored its duty of care to local residents, put at risk the lives of vulnerable road users and made important decisions behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny. This case has exposed serious failures within the planning system and should serve as a warning to others.'

Julian Halls, Wymondham town councillor, also spoke against the plans, saying it would pave the way for more development behind the approved strip of houses, putting further pressure on the road system and increasing the risks to pedestrians.

The council's response

Lee Hornby, South Norfolk Council's cabinet member for regulation and public safety, said they were still exploring ideas for improving pedestrian access on the road, in partnership with the developer and town council.

Mr Hornby said: 'We looked at a number of options, but it became apparent through the planning application process that it was not possible to provide the pedestrian refuge within the existing highway, so rather than hold up development, we have secured a financial contribution, which will be put towards improvements in the future.'

Mr Hornby said they were looking at three options, which were: 'an informal path routed behind the hedge within the recreation ground; an extension to the school car park which would reduce on-street parking and benefit residents; or the contribution could be put towards other highway works to enhance highway safety around the school.'

The application is available to view online, search the planning section of the SNC website for 2016/0627What do you think? Email stuart.anderson@archant.co.uk

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