Crunch decision on controversial planning order which could pave way for new food hub near Easton
- Credit: Archant
Cabinet members are due to make a crunch decision on a controversial planning order which could pave the way for a new food hub in Norfolk.
Broadland District Council's cabinet will next Tuesday decide whether to adopt a Local Development Order (LDO) for a site off Blind Lane, near Easton.
The LDO will enable certain types of agricultural businesses to build on 19-hectares of rural land without having to submit a planning application.
The types of permitted uses for the site include livestock markets, haulage services and food manufacturing.
If adopted, the order will help facilitate a Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ), which supporters say will bring investment and jobs to the county.
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But the proposals have also been met with fierce criticism from people nearby.
The local authority said it had received objections from 94 households, in addition to several parish councils.
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Along with concerns that the surrounding countryside will be blighted by factory buildings, objectors have questioned why Broadland has refused to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the site.
It has resulted in Easton Parish Council requesting for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to ensure an EIA is carried out.
Peter Milliken, parish council chairman, said: 'We would like to see it carried out to reassure residents of the local community that the environment and the natural resources are going to be protected from what is essentially an industrial estate in the middle of the countryside.'
Broadland District Council's head of planning Phil Courtier said that the likely effects of the development were 'not significant' enough to justify an EIA. The council said it had sought legal advice from a barrister, who agreed with its conclusion.
But cabinet papers state there is a 'risk' the council could be subjected to a legal challenge around the decision.
In response to a consultation exercise, the council said 66 individuals and organisations supported the scheme.
Cabinet members will have the choice to either adopt the proposed LDO, decide against it, or delegate authority to the head of planning to make any amendments prior to a final adoption.