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Contentious approval of modern flats will 'scar Diss for descendants', opponents claim

PUBLISHED: 12:29 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:14 16 October 2019

Visualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

Visualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

Controversial modern flats overlooking the Diss Mere have been agreed by councillors, despite opponents claiming the development would "scar Diss for our descendants".

New apartments will be built at the top of land next to the Mere wildlife garden. Picture: Simon ParkinNew apartments will be built at the top of land next to the Mere wildlife garden. Picture: Simon Parkin

Developers applied for permission to demolish a garage and two storage buildings and build three-storey apartments behind the Happy Palace Chinese restaurant on St Nicholas Street.

The scheme was initially delayed for a site visit and the creation of a construction management plan, but was recommended for approval by council officers.

But a South Norfolk Council planning committee meeting on Tuesday, October 16, saw opponents of the scheme, which has faced fierce opposition, raise vehement objections, and cite potential impact on the area's natural beauty and the livelihood of traders.

Visualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk CouncilVisualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

Graham Minshull, local member and South Norfolk Council chairman, said: "I say to the committee seriously consider what you're actually putting here for the future; for our descendants.

"What we put here will inevitably scar Diss for the future."

He added: "Traders are all hanging on by a thread and I think this will push them over the edge.

Eric Taylor, Diss Town Council planning subcommittee chairman. Picture: Eric TaylorEric Taylor, Diss Town Council planning subcommittee chairman. Picture: Eric Taylor

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"The view is absolutely critical. You don't want to be plonking a great big modern building slap bang in the middle of it."

Eric Taylor, chairman of Diss Town Council's planning committee, said: "It's detrimental to ecology and won't contribute anything to biodiversity."

He added: "There is a concern the courtyard will become dangerous for shoppers and traders.

"This development would disrupt the normal business of the courtyard and be a real threat to the livelihoods of the traders."

Planning agent Keith Day, on behalf of the applicants, said traffic would enter and exit the courtyard at the end of the working day to minimise disruption, and a "cleaning regime" to limit mess from soil resurfacing would be in place.

Officers added a condition to the application to ensure soil was not backfilled around nearby trees.

Planning committee vice chairman Lisa Neal said: "While I hear people's concerns about this, in planning terms there seems very little that we can legally refuse it on that would stand up on appeal."

The application was approved by the committee, with five councillors voting in favour and Liberal Democrat councillor Vivienne Clifford-Jackson voting against.

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