Live coverage: Councillors to decide whether to approve bid to build 300 homes in Downham Market - despite local opposition

The site off Nightingale Road, Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

The site off Nightingale Road, Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Plans for 300 new homes to be built on the edge of Downham Market could be given the go-ahead today, despite fears the town can't cope.

Residents fear the town's schools and GP surgeries will not be able to cope with increased demand if the Nightingale Lane development is given the green light.

Hundreds packed a public meeting in February before Downham Market Town Council voted to oppose the development.

But officers have recommended West Norfolk's planning committee to approve the Nightingale Lane development, ahead of its meeting today.

A report to councillors says: 'Overall, the proposed development is considered to achieve sustainable development. This allocated site is located on the edge of Downham Market and is considered to be a highly sustainable location within walking and cycling distance of the town centre, the station, schools and other key facilities.'

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It states that the original application was submitted for up to 500 homes including land to the north and outside the allocated site. The applicant was advised to reduce the number to 300 as it breached planning policy.

Developers were given the go-ahead to build 170 houses on land off the A1122 by-pass two years ago. But Isle of man-based Grosvenor Partnership has now applied build a further 130 properties on the site, on the town's south-eastern outskirts. The company says the increase is 'achievable'.

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Downham Market Town Council said the town faced 'unprecedented numbers of major development applications'.

It added: 'It should be noted that the town's infrastructure will be unable to support the size of this development.'

West Norfolk council received 31 objections, citing concerns including lack of infrastructure and lack of jobs in the area.

The report to councillors adds: 'As with any residential development proposal, the construction of 300 dwellings would make a significant and valuable contribution to the economy through the creation of construction jobs and will further support the supply chain associated with this sector, which in turn can help support local employment and skills. The occupiers of the development will contribute to the vitality and viability of local shops and businesses and will generate local spend within the district's economy.'

It concludes the site can accommodate up to 300 houses 'without material harm to the visual amenity of the locality, highway safety or neighbour amenity'.

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