Hundreds sign Watton homes petition as surrounding villages add their voice

More than 600 people have already signed a petition as part of a growing campaign against a proposed housing estate in Watton.

Hopkins Homes faced widespread opposition from councillors and residents following its initial application for 91 houses on land off Saham Road.

Breckland Council refused planning permission in September last year and the developer's subsequent appeal to the government's planning inspector was thrown out at an inquiry held in June.

A re-submitted application for 69 houses has prompted an angry response in the town and surrounding villages, with more than 30 people attending a town council planning meeting held last month.

Residents have raised a wide range of objections including concerns about drainage, traffic, the design and layout of the affordable homes and the location of the site - which falls outside Watton's settlement boundary.

Campaigner Ron Upton said there were fears that Watton was being over-developed and that local services, particularly Watton Medical Practice, would be unable to cope.

'Saham Road is narrow and totally unsuitable for additional traffic as it already acts as a short-cut into Watton,' he said. 'It is unlit, has few footpaths and is prone to flooding.

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'Those collecting the signatures were amazed at the positive response of the townspeople against this development to the south of the town, which will only result in an urban sprawl.'

Brian Hinkins, a parish councillor in nearby Saham Toney, said similar objections and concerns had been raised in his village.

'If you turn left from this proposed development, within a few hundred metres you will have to drive across a single-track bridge over a river, then into Cley Lane which has no pedestrian area and no speed limit,' cllr Hinkins said.

'As a council, we have tried to obtain a speed limit on this stretch of road - it can be hazardous for vehicles and pedestrians. Needles to say, this is a major rat run through our village and cannot stand any increase in traffic flow.'

As well as 27 affordable homes, the plans include an area of open public space for new and existing residents, a new vehicular access and pedestrian links.

Breckland is expected to make a decision on the application by early December.