Lakenham housing plans meet fierce opposition

The loss of open space and traffic concerns dominated a meeting which saw a passionate public rejection of housing plans for the former site of a Norwich sports centre.

With plans to build 80 homes on the site of former Lakenham Sports and Leisure Centre originally quashed following opposition, developers have now re-submitted plans for a minimum of 65 homes with public open space.

However, at packed-to-the-rafters meeting held at Lakenham Primary School last the night, residents called upon the Norwich City Council to defend, or purchase, land whose development they felt would lower house prices and overburden the community.

Beginning things Head of planning for Norwich City Council Graham Nelson emphasised that no decisions would be made until cabinet looked at the issue in December, and said the meeting was to allow residents to best make representations when consultation begins on September 30.

And fears were quickly raised as to access for the planned development, which could be a third affordable housing.

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Among the attendance of around 150, homeowners from Cricket Ground Road and Smithfield Road among others highlighted their concerns over the impact of new traffic in their street.

Jim Moran pointed to increased car troubles that followed the building of the primary school and added, to widespread applause, that 'making Smithfield Road and access road would be really quite bizarre.'

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Others voiced concerns about the impact of the affordable housing on the area, and pointed to previous reports, saying that the council had gone back on their word over protecting the site. Many also asked why they would not step in to keep the land for leisure use or as open space.

However, Mr Nelson said: 'I find it difficult, short of a philanthropist buying the land, to see the local council can force it to be brought back into the use that the vast majority of people here want.'

He argued that though many within the council were sympathetic to the resident's views, the potential cost of compulsory purchase order could at worst stretch into the millions, something that was not affordable.

Are you unhappy about a nearby development? Contact Evening news reporter John Owens on

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