Hundreds of new homes agreed for Norfolk town
- Credit: Archant
Hundreds of homes and a new railway bridge are set to be built in a Norfolk town after a council agreed to a controversial housing scheme for the second time.
Plans for 291 new homes on the outskirts of Dereham were first submitted by planning consultant Lanpro on behalf of developer Glavenhill Strategic Land in 2015.
And the scheme was approved by Breckland Council - despite more than 200 objections - in 2018.
But after the developer agreed to guarantee 40pc of the homes would be affordable, as well as providing open spaces and more than £1.3m towards library, NHS and school services, plans were brought back for reconsideration.
The district’s vision for its future growth was also brought into force last year, with the developer’s financial contribution finalised just two days before the document was signed off on.
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Ahead of a planning meeting on Monday, June 22, a report said it was appropriate to reconsider, given the “significant period since the previous resolution”.
Case officer Rebecca Collins told the council it was not felt there had been “significant change since the previous decision” and said approval was recommended.
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Tony Needham, from Dereham town council, said there were concerns over the traffic impact, and urged the developer to take the town council’s walking and cycling assessment into account.
He also said the width of the proposed rail link bridge was a concern, as it would be used by HGVs.
However, the county council’s highway authority insisted that traffic from the proposed development would not lead to an “unacceptable impact on highway safety and would not lead to a severe residual cumulative impact on the road network” and recommended the scheme be approved.
And neighbour Helen Frayer objected to the designs for the proposed link road which went directly through the housing site.
“It is madness to design a main road to go through a housing development,” she said. “These houses will be lived in by families - why bisect it with a link road?”
But Ms Collins said the road would have a 30mph speed limit and added: “It’s better to have it in the middle because that will slow traffic down - if you push it to the south, its more likely to become the rat run we’re worried about.”
While Philip Atkinson, Lanpro, said: “The one change since the original application is that the new local plan is now involved.”
Councillor Philip Morton said it was critical the council began to build zero carbon homes, while councillor Keith Gilbert asked the developer to consider wildlife measures and hedgehog highways.
And councillor Roger Atterwill said he was concerned about the width of the proposed railway bridge and urged the committee to listen to residents’ concerns.
“This is the largest housing development in Dereham for many years,” he said.
“I think the people of Dereham will find it incomprehensible that details like that will not come back to committee.”
He added: “If you’ve got two HGVs needing to pass that would be pretty scary for someone standing on the footway. It gves very, very little room for HGVs.”
And councillor Harry Clarke asked: “Is it usual for a Section 106 agreement to be signed prior to the decision notice?”
He added: “291 is the largest scheme in the whole of Dereham so it’s going to have a large impact. Is the 291 the absolute maximum number of houses?
“I think there are huge concerns in terms of where this link road is going to go through.”
But Marian Chapman-Allen said: “We are not experts - we have experts from the county council.
“We hear the town council’s concerns regarding the bridge but we are not experts and I’m content to go with the expert advice that we’ve heard from the county council.”
And Ms Collins said: “We always sign Section 106 agreements before planning permission is granted. We need S106 in order to issue a decision notice.”
She said if the developer wanted to build more homes than the 291 included in the application, they would need to reapply for full planning permission separately.
Councillors voted to approve the plans, with nine votes in favour and two votes against the scheme.