Open space too valuable to lose

A campaign to protect an open space in Lowestoft from development has received a boost after district councillors voted to oppose the building of a new pupil referral unit for struggling children.

A campaign to protect an open space in Lowestoft from development has received a boost after district councillors voted to oppose the building of a new pupil referral unit for struggling children.

Suffolk County Council wants to build the unit on land off Green Drive and Walmer Road in the Pakefield area of Lowestoft and next month county councillors will have to make a decision on whether it gets the go-ahead.

There has been a storm of protest from local residents against the scheme and the Green Drive Action Group has been formed.

A petition against the proposal has more than 500 signatures and now members of Waveney District Council's Lowestoft Area Development Control Committee have added their weight to the opposition.

Christopher Corby, representing local residents, told the committee that the area was a well-used open space and that there was a 70pc deficit of such land in Lowestoft.

Mr Corby said the open space was also used for horse riding by disabled children and adults who are based at the Pakefield Riding School.

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Committee members also shared the same concerns of local residents and are urging the county council to rethink its proposals.

Stephen Barrett, who represents the Pakefield area on the district council, said: “Pakefield does not have enough of these open spaces and this particular area is used by a wide section of the local community.”

Mr Barrett was supported by Stephen Chilvers, who said Suffolk County Council should look for alternative sites for the unit.

“These open spaces are the lungs of Lowestoft.

“When they are lost to development they are lost for ever,” he said.

Councillors also believed that existing school buildings in the Lowestoft area could become available to be used as a pupil referral unit when the proposed changes to educational in Suffolk goes ahead and middle schools are axed to form a two-tier system of primary and high schools.

The response of the councillors proved a victory for campaigners because planning officials at Waveney had recommended that no formal objection to the plans should be raised.

Suffolk County Council submitted the application for the new unit to provide a replacement for the current temporary accommodation situated in School Road, Lowestoft.

It would cater for up to 24 pupils from north Suffolk aged between eight and 13 years old.