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Woman ‘harassed’ over controversial housing plan that impacted ‘important hedge’

PUBLISHED: 10:20 13 January 2019

Helen Palmer-Wright, second from left, pictured with her children and grandchildren. Photo: Helen Palmer-Wright

Helen Palmer-Wright, second from left, pictured with her children and grandchildren. Photo: Helen Palmer-Wright

Archant

A widow who had planning permission to build on her smallholding withdrawn after an objector threatened a judicial review said she had faced “personal harassment” from opposers of the project.

Helen Palmer-Wright, 55, applied unsuccessfully to build six houses, including two affordable homes, on her land in Beeston in 2015.

She was granted permission by Breckland Council’s planning committee after reapplying in October 2018 - but approval was withdrawn just days later after an unnamed objector threatened the council with a judicial review if the development went ahead.

And the scheme was refused at a subsequent planning committee meeting, held on October 17.

Mrs Palmer-Wright said: “They kept talking about a judicial review and saying it would be costly and time consuming.”

Helen Palmer-Wright, 55, applied unsuccessfully to build six houses on her land in Beeston in 2015. Photo: Helen Palmer-WrightHelen Palmer-Wright, 55, applied unsuccessfully to build six houses on her land in Beeston in 2015. Photo: Helen Palmer-Wright

In a recording of the meeting, council officers advised there was a “realistic chance of a successful judicial review being lodged”, with “resultant implications for the council”, and described it as “quite a serious matter”.

Mrs Palmer-Wright, a parish councillor in Beeston who owns the grave digging firm HPW Excavations, said: “They mentioned sustainability which is a strange reason to give when they’re approving proposals in the village left, right and centre.

“They didn’t mention the judicial review in their write-up.”

Mrs Palmer-Wright said she wanted to develop the land, on The Street and Herne Lane, after her husband, Stanley List, died of a sudden aneurism in 2011, aged 59.

Breckland Council reversed a planning decision after an objector threatened a judicial review over a protected hedge in Beeston. Photo: Graham CorneyBreckland Council reversed a planning decision after an objector threatened a judicial review over a protected hedge in Beeston. Photo: Graham Corney

She said: “I’m living with my daughter at the moment - I wanted to live in one of [the properties].

“I’ve always lived in Beeston.

“We had a smallholding here, with animals, which I couldn’t carry on with. I kept up the grave digging business with my son-in-law but I couldn’t do both.”

She added: “This all got very out of hand. The people opposed don’t want it blocking the view.

“They’ve been harassing me over this - it’s got a bit personal.”

A spokesperson for Breckland Council said: “The planning committee refused planning permission in light of two key issues.

“One reason was due to the impact on an important hedge and the other was that an independent planning inspector had previously found the site in Beeston to be unsustainable and there have been no material changes in circumstances since the inspector reached this decision in 2017.

“Planning permission decisions can potentially be challenged through a judicial review procedure and members of the committee were reminded of this due to the planning appeal history of the site.”

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