Debate on 850-home plan

Controversial plans to build more than 850 homes, effectively creating a new town on the outskirts of Lowestoft, have moved a step closer.

Controversial plans to build more than 850 homes, effectively creating a new town on the outskirts of Lowestoft, have moved a step closer.

A blueprint for a major expansion of Oulton village, which would include the homes, a shopping centre, community hall, primary school, play areas and a country park, has come back to the table, with members of Waveney District Council's development control committee set to discuss the plans on Wednesday.

The development on 130 acres at Woods Meadow, on land south of Hall Lane, would increase the number of homes in the village to more than 2,000.

When the plans were first mooted in 2001, an 800-signature petition condemning the plans was submitted and Oulton Parish Council opposed the application, which never reached the final planning stage.

Parish council chairman Charles Swan said yesterday: “Public opinion is still very much divided. When this plan first came up, we did refuse it as it was quite big (around 450 homes) but since then it's got even bigger.

“Now with more than 850 homes, a school and various other proposals, we have to look at it in a fresh light. We don't see at this stage a great deal to complain about; the basic idea of this meeting next Wednesday, which we are looking forward to attending, is to set a date for a site meeting.”

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Villagers previously raised concerns about the environmental impacts of the development, including the possibility of flooding, and the increased traffic that would be generated.

The new plans have been submitted by a group of developers known as the Woods Meadow Consortium and, on Wednesday, councillors will be asked to agree to carry out a site visit before deciding whether to grant the application outline planning permission.

The proposed development is for a 55.3 acre Country Park, residential homes spanning 66 acres, play areas, a primary school site covering three acres with a fully serviced nursery, a community centre and a shopping site.

According to the latest census figures in 2001, there are 1,328 households in Oulton with a population of 3,220.

Waveney District Council spokesman Phil Harris said: “With regard to Woods Meadow, a report will be going to committee in the near future and the views expressed by interested parties will play an important role in discussions.”

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, then it may not be the only major development to hit the area in the future.

Figures unveiled in the latest Consultation on the Waveney Local Development Framework have recommended that a total of 5,800 houses will be built in Waveney over the period to 2021.

This equates to a rate of 290 houses per year, with 3,970 of these houses expected to be built in Lowestoft.