Controversial Caston planning application withdrawn

Villagers are 'concerned' after Breckland Council withdrew an application to build two homes on a communal green just three days before it was due to be discussed.

Members of the council's plannning committee were due to look at the plans tomorrow to build a pair of two-bedroom semi-detached homes on a 625 metres square plot off Attleborough Road in Caston, near Watton.

But on Friday residents affected by the proposal were told about the withdrawal of the proposal. It was recommended by planning officers that council members refuse the plans.

The committee was also due to discuss an application to build two homes off Bridge Road, Guist, near Dereham, but this was deferred. Recommendations had also been made to refuse this plan.

Elizabeth Gould, chairman of the planning committee, confirmed the Caston plan had been withdrawn but added she was 'surprised' at the decision and did not know the reasons why.

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Both sites in Caston and Guist had been selected for development as part of Breckland Council's Active Land Management process, which aims to find the most effective way of disposing with the surplus council-owned sites in the district.

Before that, Breckland Council was in the process of giving the land off Attleborough Road, including another patch of grass opposite, to Caston Parish Council.

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Residents in Coronation Terrace, Caston, strongly opposed the proposal because the area of grass has been used as an informal village green by children since the houses in Attleborough Road were built in 1953.

If construction was to go ahead at Guist the site - which is outside of the settlement boundary - the building line would be at the edge of the River Wensum.

Criticisms of the Caston application included that houses would be 'squeezed' into the space, trees would be lost and the two new parking spaces - created for the properties - would adversely affect existing parking spaces and access problems.

Denise Warren, 40, from Coronation Terrace, said: 'At first my reaction was one of relief but once it had sunk in I thought why have they withdrawn it. Is it delaying tactics? I'm over the moon but I have still got reservations.

'Does it mean they (Breckland Council) are not going to gift the land to Caston Parish Council or does it mean it will stay in Breckland Council's ownership and they will put in another planning application in the future?'

Grettl Hughes, 63, who also lives in the same road, added: 'We don't know if it is good news for us...I just don't understand why Breckland Council didn't let the application go to committee.'

Caston parish councillor, David Blincow, said Breckland Council's decision to withdraw the application for discussion has not resolved the situation.

'Until they say they won't build on the land and let the parish council take control it remains a problem,' he added.

Caston Parish Council will be discussing the issue at a full meeting tomorrow from 7.30pm at Caston Village Hall.

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