Broads Authority give controversial go-ahead for demolition of Utopia and Arcady cottages in Stalham

Broads Authority planners have given the go-ahead for two historic Stalham cottages to be demolished, despite a groundswell of local protest.

The authority's planning committee today unanimously gave conservation area consent to knock down Arcady and Utopia, in Utopia Way, which date from the late 18th century.

But they have deferred making a decision on an application to replace the former wherrymen's homes with arts and crafts-style properties.

North Norfolk Labour Party, which campaigned against the plans, has condemned the decision. A party spokesman said: 'Despite objections from Stalham Town Council, a 100-name petition, and more than 160 letters to the authority against the plans, the planning committee agreed with the officers' recommendations for approval.'

The application was made by Hugh and Deborah Leventon, from Wheatley, in Hampshire, who have been using the cottages as a holiday home. They are visible from the river as craft approach Stalham Staithe,

Sheila Cullingham, a former Labour county councillor in the area, said: 'I am very disappointed that this decision has ignored the wishes of local residents who signed our petition, and that this will set a precedent for the rest of the Broads that everything is up for grabs once more'.

A spokesman for the authority said officers would now discuss what type of property would be acceptable on the site and what conditions would need to be attached to an application.

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The Broads Society had objected to the proposed replacements as 'alien to the traditional architecture associated with this part of the Broads'.

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