'Ghetto' fears raised over scheme for 725 new homes

The pavillion in Pinebanks in 2008, before it lay vacant. Photo: Angela Sharpe

The pavillion in Pinebanks in 2008, before it lay vacant. Photo: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant © 2008

Proposals for hundreds of homes across a series of vacant sites in Thorpe St Andrew have been rejected by councillors, who raised concerns over the scale of the developments.

A meeting of the local town council heard fears that the plans to develop the locations risked creating a "ghetto" in the area, because of their size.

Development firm Ocubis wants to build 575 homes at three places on Yarmouth Road - 105 properties on Langley North, 175 on Langley South and 295 in Pinebanks, once home to the Norwich Union Sports and Social Club - with another 150 at a fourth site on Griffin Lane.

Derelict Pinebanks buildings Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams

Derelict Pinebanks buildings Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Both Griffin Lane and Langley South would be accessed via Yarmouth Road with a new roundabout being proposed to serve the other 150 homes at the Griffin Lane site. 

The former sports centre on the Pinebanks site has been unused since 2008 and in 2014 was the victim of a serious arson attack.

Despite a previous plan to develop several of the sites being approved in 2013, with smaller numbers of houses, they have remained untouched.

At Monday's meeting, residents and councillors raised concerns about the overdevelopment of the area. They also accused the developers of a lack of thought and said the schemes would lead to excessive traffic.

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Mike Riches, a member of the public, said: "These applications, Pinebanks and Langely North in particular, equate to a 73pc increase in the prior house numbers from 2013 meaning an extra 2,000 vehicle movements per day via very small residential roads.

"The road is already sinking. From a safety point of view, this proposal in my mind is just crazy profiteering."

This was dismissed by transport consultant John Mulhaire, who said the modelling showed the roads could take the uplift in traffic.

Many people raised concerns about the drainage system, which they said was already struggling to cope with the number of houses in the area.

Laura Harvey, whose daughter Millie set up a petition against the Pinebanks proposal which has so far gained around 1,130 signatures, also questioned what would be done to support the already stretched doctors and dentists services in the neighbourhood.

Nine-year-old Millie Harvey with her poster and petition against houses being built at the former Pi

Nine-year-old Millie Harvey with her poster and petition against houses being built at the former Pinebanks site in Thorpe St Andrew. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Stephen Chatfield, development director at Ocubis, said just 38 people had responded to its consultation and claimed that a "silent majority" tended to welcome such projects. 

Commenting on the applications, councillors said they were overdeveloped, with planning chairman John Fisher saying the Griffin Lane site was "in danger of having a ghetto" due to the proximity to the railway line, the height of the buildings and amount of affordable housing. 

Councillors agreed to write to Broadland District Council - which will make a final decision on the plans - to state their objections to the plans.

North West Ward councillor Peter Berry said: "It would be in dereliction of our roles as representatives of residents if we agreed these applications."