Affordable homes plan on former pub site branded 'cynical'
- Credit: Archant
Plans for affordable homes on the site of a historic former pub have been branded 'cynical'.
An application to demolish the 159-year-old Waggon and Horses pub and retail units in Shipdham to make way for seven affordable homes was heard at Breckland's planning committee on Monday.
Eight objections were received from the community, focusing on the loss of employment and business space.
Samantha Shelley, a member of Shipdham Parish Council, told the committee it was disappointed by the plans, calling the businesses on the site "hard-fought and hard-won".
Ms Shelley said the buildings had only become dilapidated because the businesses had been forced out, and because keeping commercial space was a local plan objective.
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Ward councillor Paul Hewett said the application had split local opinion, with some people just wanting developers to get on with it, after demolition was first proposed in 2017.
“On the other hand, I think this application is one of the most cynical manipulations of our planning system over the last few years," he said.
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He added: “The landlord foreclosed on the tenancy agreement which offered employment locally.
“The businesses that were in situ needed to close down or relocate, rendering the buildings derelict.
"Now a justification for residential rather than commercial is that it brings back derelict buildings into use and there’s no local business need.
“It’s the commercial equivalent justification of repopulating following ethnic cleansing – and that’s not something we can and should promote or be proud of.”
Council officer Rebecca Collins acknowledged that the application did not meet employment planning objectives, but said the authority felt the affordable homes outweighed the negatives.
Councillor Roger Atterwill raised concerns the developer might come back and try to get rid of a previously approved convenience store on the site for more housing.
He said: “It’s a large growing village, we can’t keep throwing houses on these villages without helping them improve their facilities.
"On balance, I don’t agree with these houses being built.
"I think we should stick it out and have the retail units here.
"Anyone can put a viability study together and say ‘I can't make it pay’.
“I don’t agree with that. If these communities are going to grow we have got to put those sustainable business units in there.”
Councillors voted two for and seven against, rejecting the officer recommendation to approve.