‘It does not care about the people’: Broads Authority slammed over homes for elderly
- Credit: Malcolm Allsop
A dispute has broken out between councillors and the Broads Authority over the future use of a former boat building site.
The Windboats Marine site in Wroxham has been vacant for around a year, ever since the boat builders relocated to North Walsham.
The site has largely been demolished and has been bought by LEF Trading, with hopes it can eventually provide housing for the elderly in the area.
It is a plan that has the full support of Wroxham Parish Council, which recently identified a need for more retirement housing in its latest neighbourhood plan.
However, the parish council has found itself at an impasse with the Broads Authority, which is keen for the site to be used for either employment or tourism.
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This disagreement came to a head earlier this month, when the BA refused a planning application from LEF to build two homes on a redundant car park attached to the land-locked site. It was meant to be the first phase of the overall development of the site.
Barry Fiske, chairman of Wroxham Parish Council, said: "The application would have marked the start of a significant waterside development to further include 20-30 homes specifically for the elderly.
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"The Broads Authority pays no heed to the concerns of our community - it has its inflexible central planning mentality and does not seem to care about the people who actually live in the Norfolk Broads."
A BA spokesman said: "The application as submitted was for the construction of two dwellings only and was not presented as an early phase of a 'significant waterside development' to provide housing for the elderly in Wroxham.
"It was refused on grounds that it did not meet marketing, viability and use requirements relating to new dwellings on an existing commercial employment site. The Broads Authority recognises there is a need for housing for older people, but this was not the application which was before the committee."
A spokesman for the developer said: "We do feel we have been stonewalled by the BA, who have a laudable policy designed to protect boatyards but want to apply it rigidly to a former factory site without any access to water and a redundant car park.
"Its refusal to talk to us about the future of the site for 16 months is incomprehensible."
Malcolm Allsop, parish council vice chairman, added: "Decisions like this will only fuel the debate over the profoundly undemocratic nature of the Broads Authority."