Oulton 800 new homes plan thrown out

A victory for public opinion over policy was celebrated last night as plans to build 800 homes outside Lowestoft were thrown out by councillors - against officials' advice.

A victory for public opinion over policy was celebrated last night as plans to build 800 homes outside Lowestoft were thrown out by councillors - against officials' advice.

The proposed development at Woods Meadow in Oulton was refused planning consent on the grounds of insufficient infrastructure at the 66-acre greenfield site, prompting loud applause from the objectors who filled the gallery at Waveney's development control committee meeting.

The development was to include a primary school, shopping centre, doctors' surgery and country park, along with a commitment of almost £3m to address the burgeoning numbers of students who were expected to be attending other local schools.

Planning chiefs had recommended that the application be granted after the scheme received the backing of the education authority, environmental health and highways agencies.

But Waveney District Council will now have to defend an appeal against their refusal of a scheme which was in line with their own local development plan, and in accordance with prime minister Gordon Brown's commitment to building three million homes across the UK by 2020.

Oulton councillor Peter Collecott said: “People do need somewhere to live, and I do believe that this scheme will happen at some point, but this is not the right time or place. The infrastructure is not there to support it.

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“I would like to see brownfield sites used before we decimate a beautiful piece of countryside.”

Mr Collecott told the committee that neighbouring homeowners didn't think enough provisions had been made to prevent “rat-running” on the small roads around Hall Road and Sands Lane.

“I live on Gorleston Road, and I cannot believe when the experts say that another 1,200 cars in this area will not have an impact,” he said.

Simon Wheatman, for the developers, said he would launch an immediate appeal and expected the project could now be delayed by 12 months for a planning inquiry.

He said: “We are extremely disappointed in the reasons for refusal, given the extensive work that has been undertaken over the last 15 years by an array of experts.

“In respect of the infrastructure, we have used the county council's own consultants, so it is a surprise to come to this decision having got the backing of all the infrastructure agencies.

“The councillors have a difficult job representing the residents and the corporate policy of the council, but you expect that when their own officers have looked at it and recommended approval, they should take it in that direction.”

The 1st East Urban Regeneration Company also opposed the plans, insisting that they would hamper their own plans to develop derelict land in Lowestoft.

But Mr Wheatman said that both proposals would be needed to satisfy housing needs, and that the Woods Meadow site was available now, while 1st East's Lake Lothing site had yet to be fully investigated.

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