Development could be imminent on former David Rice hospital site in Drayton

The former David Rice Hospital site at Drayton. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The former David Rice Hospital site at Drayton. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Development of the former David Rice hospital site in Drayton could be imminent - 14 years after the original buildings were demolished.

Plans for 29 homes at the site, including 10 affordable homes, will be considered by Broadland District Council next week.

The resubmitted outline application has increased the number of affordable homes and offered protection for the landscape.

Objection to the plans locally has been fierce, with the protection of wildlife, in particular a rare orchid, the first of its kind to be discovered in 60 years in Norfolk, a priority.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has recommended a portion of the site be allocated as a county wildlife site due to its ecological value, and concerns over an 'unacceptable' risk of flooding has prompted concerns from Anglian Water.

They said: 'Habitats of the wider site are of medium value at the county scale, which accords with our view that the major portion of the site is of county wildlife site value. There will inevitably be loss of ecological value. In order to ensure this loss is mitigated, the whole area outside the red line should be managed in order to protect and enhance its biodiversity value.

'Any approval will need to ensure mitigation of impacts across the whole site, including impacts on Lizard Orchids.'

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43 letters of objection were received and an online petition was signed by 333 people, although 293 of those had international addresses.

While the application site has not been allocated for housing, up to 250 homes have been approved nearby at Hall Lane and an application for 71 homes has been submitted south of Drayton High Road.

Despite this, officers said 'with regard to the deficit in the supply of land for housing...Drayton is a sustainable location for development of this scale.'

The David Rice Hospital was demolished in 2003, and various attempts to build a church on the site by Christian entrepreneur Graham Dacre were unsuccessful.

A previous application for 29 homes was withdrawn in October 2016 due to an under provision of affordable homes and lack of protection for the Lizard orchid.

Officers have recommended delegation to the head of planning to approve, subject to a list of 31 conditions.

The application will come before Broadland planning committee on October 4.