Appeal lodged for 91 homes in Watton

A developer determined to build 91 homes on a field in Watton has lodged an appeal against a decision to turn down the plans.

Hopkins Homes applied for permission to create the housing estate on land off Saham Road last year.

But in September, Breckland Council's planning committee decided the plans were not acceptable and refused them.

They cited reasons including the location of the site, which is outside the town's settlement boundary, poor sewerage in the area, and a failure to integrate a good mix of affordable housing with open-market homes.

Now the developer has lodged an appeal against the decision, insisting none of the reasons for refusal is valid.

In a document outlining the grounds for the appeal to the inspectorate, it says any concerns about the poor sewerage infrastructure could be easily overcome.

'Planning permission can be granted for the development on condition that current deficiencies within the existing network are resolved as there is an acceptable drainage strategy in respect of the proposed development,' the report says.

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It also calls criticism of the design and layout of affordable housing 'entirely unjustified', insisting it meets all planning policy requirements.

The final point of the appeal focuses on the council's claim that the land, which is outside the town's settlement boundary, is not suitable for residential development.

The appellant insists that, since the site is next door to the boundary, it would 'not compromise wider objectives to protect the countryside from intrusive development'.

It also points out that, since it has so far not identified an up-to-date five-year supply of homes in the area, the council is required to look favourably on housing proposals.

Ron Upton, George Fuller, and Steve McCarthy, the site's neighbours, fear the developer could use that planning loophole to get the development approved by the government inspector.

Writing on behalf of other residents in the Saham Road area, Mr McCarthy has lodged an official objection.

In it he says: 'We, as existing residents, have serious concerns about this proposal and are passionate that our arguments are understood and fully appreciated.'

Mr McCarthy believes the town is already bearing the brunt of the district's housing requirements, with a number of developments already built or approved on the former RAF Watton site, and would not cope with further growth. He adds: 'Large scale growth runs the risk of undermining the small town character of Watton.'

The Watton objection also suggests that noise disturbance and traffic could be a problem, and echoes Breckland Council's concerns about drainage.

A date for the appeal hearing has yet to be set.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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