Controversial bid to redevelop Thorpe St Andrew leisure centre and build new homes rejected
A residents' revolt played its part as a controversial bid to redevelop a leisure centre and put up 27 homes was rejected.
Joy and relief greeted the decision by 13 votes to two to turn down the scheme to expand Oasis Leisure Club, in Pound Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, and build homes nearby.
Among the reasons raised at the Broadland District Council planning meeting were possible overdevelopment of the area, loss of a large open space and fears for great-crested newts. There was also concern about the loss of more than 50 trees.
There was a long debate about a Section 52 agreement on the area, which since 1985 has prevented any development on the land.
Phil Courtier, head of planning, told councillors they were able to overturn the legally binding agreement, made more than 30 years ago, if they chose to.
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Lana Hempsall, councillor for Acle, said: 'I won't take any part in revoking that decision as I don't think it's my call.' She said that it should be a decision made during a full council meeting, not the planning committee.
Alan Mallett, councillor for Coltishall, said: 'The application we are being asked to consider is the loss of a large open space.'
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Another councillor that voiced their concerns was Sue Lawn, district councillor for Thorpe St Andrew South East.
Ms Lawn said: 'I have a few concerns, first of all the great-crested newts: it's illegal to tamper with their habitat and to move 56 trees and five groups – that is a huge amount of trees – I don't find that acceptable.
'It also concerns me that the properties are serious over development.'
The application outlined plans to demolish the main house and create a new leisure centre with pools, gym areas, cafe and nursery.
Other objections included the historic nature of the building that currently houses Oasis Leisure Club and the expected increase in traffic in the area.
Fifteen letters of concern were sent to Broadland District Council and three local residents spoke at the meeting.
A spokesman for Oasis said that no one was available to comment.
Three members of the public shared their concerns about the planning application.
Tim Catmull, of Well Close, Simond Godfrey, of Woodlands Crescent, and Richard Baxter, of Pound Lane spoke at the Broadland District Council planning meeting.
Mr Catmull said: 'I am not opposed to redevelopment into residential housing of the southern section of the Oasis site... Subject to a scheme being proposed that takes account of local residents concerns and fears.
'It would permanently destroy a rare and extremely valuable natural habitat and in a report prepared by Wild Frontier Ecology they admit they didn't carry out a comprehensive survey of the pond.
'What about the massive increase in traffic to and from the site? The demolition of one of the oldest remaining properties in Thorpe, dating back to the 18th century?'
Mr Baxter said: 'The existing area is big enough for the health centre and housing, this application is trying to have your cake and eat it.'