Eco-homes plan for town wins support

Radical plans to build eco-friendly houses, complete with exercise bikes to generate power, won support from planners last night.

Radical plans to build eco-friendly houses, complete with exercise bikes to generate power, won support from planners last night.

The scheme, which will include 60 homes and 20 work units, won wide support last night.

But despite support from members of Waveney District Council's rural development control committee, because the proposal is on land off Saxons Way, Halesworth, which is not currently designated for housing, it must now be passed to government for approval.

Councillors voted by a majority to accept the idea after hearing a presentation from the architect, who said developments that responded to environmental concerns were "long overdue".

John Bennett, who is also acting as agent, said that having first seen the proposal rejected a year ago, he felt there was now a pressing need to promote an eco-friendly approach.

"The government tells us they want sustainable development. I think the district council wants sustainable development and the town council support this development," he said.

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"The climate-change issue is not improving - it's getting worse."

He added that he felt the best way forward was to back the innovative scheme and let the government office for the east of England (Go East) look at the plans to decide on a way forward.

"If we're not careful, we're going to be sitting here in a few years' time with the water lapping around our knees," said Mr Bennett. "Take it to Go East before we all go west."

The scheme, which would be built on sloping land that links an industrial estate with the town centre and alongside a play area, would include a gym with micro turbines for storing electricity, as well as including a small cinema and a lake.

Paddy Flegg backed the plan, saying she had supported it a year ago and would support it again.

Brian Woodruff added: "What I am hearing is that everyone likes the idea and the only thing stopping us is a bit of red tape called the LDF (local development framework), which is a damn shame."

But Wendy Mawer said: "We've got 1,500 responses to consultation on the LDF that should be taken into account first."

Waveney officials will now write to the secretary of state for the environment to find out if the decision will be subject to a public inquiry.

Planners also agreed to take enforcement action against developers working on the former Excelsior Works on Norwich Road, Halesworth, after unauthorised changes to the plans meant neighbouring houses would now be overlooked.