Homes approved for Wymondham despite absence of action plan

A second home development has been approved in the space of a week, even though an action plan detailing preferred housing sites is still being drawn up.

Landstock Estates Ltd was given permission to build 350 homes at Norwich Common, Wymondham by South Norfolk Council yesterday after councillors on the development management committee were told concerns about a lack of a five year housing supply in the area should supersede the town's area action plan which would pinpoint the best sites for development.

On Wednesday, the same committee approved an outline application to build 100 homes on a 4.7 hectare section of land at Pigot Lane in Framingham Earl even though an area action plan for the village had not been drawn up and 600 residents had signed a petition opposing the plans.

However, planning officer Paul Whitham told yesterday's meeting the government's National Planning Policy Framework said in areas where there was a lack of a five year supply 'we should supply the housing unless the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.'

And the council's solicitor Stuart Shortman said the area action plan was an on going consultative process and no weight could be attached to whether or not a site had been allocated for housing.

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The officer and solicitor were responding to concerns raised by councillors Tim East and Vivienne Bell in particular that the voice of local people being consulted for the action plan was being ignored.

Mr Shortman lamented that action plans had not been kept up-to-date, adding: 'It is undemocratic, you are quite right and democracy will only be allowed to happen if our plans are up-to-date.'

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Both Wymondham Town Council and Hethersett Parish Council had called for the plans to be refused.

Wymondham mayor Robert Savage said the council was concerned the homes would be outside the Wymondham development and would erode the gap between Wymondham and Hethersett, while traffic safety could be endangered and he also wanted the development to wait for the area action plan to be completed.

Three objectors from the Vision of Wymondham (VOW) action group, which aims to conserve Wymondham, also spoke at the meeting.

Prof Tom Williamson, of VOW, said the site was on land described as a flagship example of an environmental scheme and he feared more developers may try to pre-empt local action plans if the development was approved.

However, Ian Painting, the applicant's agent, answered concerns about the distance of the development from the main facilities in the centre of Wymondham, by pointing out there would be bus stops nearby with services into town.

He said there was a shortfall of 7,000 homes and the development could not wait for the preparation of an area action plan.

The developer had lodged an appeal against an original decision to refuse the plans in December. However, Mr Painting said the appeal, which was due to be heard in July, would be withdrawn in the light of the approval decision.

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