Oak tree holds up Diss development
A prominent oak tree could become a sticking point for developers hoping to build 120 new homes in Diss.
An application by Persimmon Homes to construct the dwellings off Frenze Hall Lane went back before South Norfolk Council's planning committee on Wednesday, despite the scheme having already gained approval in March.
The company asked for permission to remove an oak tree, which could be more than 100 years old, along the narrow lane to make way for road widening and footpath provision.
It had previously been confident that the work could be carried out without touching the tree, but since planning permission was obtained Norfolk County Council's highways department has since decided it must be removed after a re-assessment of the scheme.
Planning officer Gary Hancox said it was 'regrettable' to have to lose the tree, but the benefits brought to the local area by the road's improvements would off set its loss – a view backed by the applicant.
Mr Hancox added that the town council and nearby residents had been consulted on the proposed move but no comments had been received.
James Alflatt, of planning consultant Bidwells speaking on behalf of Persimmon Homes, said additional landscaping and the planting of an oak tree would be incorporated into the development as a form of compensation.
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But councillors refused to re-approve the application, voting instead to delay until after a site visit and a member of the county council's highways team could attend a meeting to explain the department's u-turn decision.
Councillor Beverley Spratt called it a 'very sad' application. 'There is no way I will ever want to vote to chop down a tree like that,' he said.
Councillor Vivienne Bell added: 'I find it amazing with the amount of work that goes into applications that Norfolk County Council said it could be retained now it has to be removed.'
During the meeting, councillors approved Persimmon Homes to use Vinces Road as an access on to the site for construction traffic.