Rejection of homes plan was flawed’

A council's decision to turn down controversial plans to build a 60-home estate in Long Stratton has been ruled illegal for a second time by its monitoring officer.

A council's decision to turn down controversial plans to build a 60-home estate in Long Stratton has been ruled illegal for a second time by its monitoring officer.

Outraged residents have slammed South Norfolk Council for taking the unusual move over the proposals by Persimmon Homes (Anglia) to build homes in Lime Tree Avenue.

The scheme was initially refused permission by the council's south-west area planning committee in February, but the council's monitoring officer told councillors that the grounds for refusal were illegal and it was referred back to the committee.

The scheme was reconsidered last month when it was refused again, and monitoring officer Chris Walton has now referred it to the council's main planning committee because the more recent decision is illegal on highways and drainage grounds.

Lime Tree Avenue resident Paul Ruddock, who is opposed to the plans, said he was appalled by the latest twist. "This is disgraceful," he said. "The committee had every right to come to its decision. How many times do the planning officers want this application to be referred back? They won't accept a democratic decision. I will be making representations to the council about this."

Potential problems with surface water and foul sewers have already been listed as key concerns, together with increased highways dangers at the junction with the A140, and the potential that neighbouring properties would be overlooked by the new homes.

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Andrew Lansdell, chairman of Long Stratton Parish Council, which is opposed to the plans, said: "I am very surprised that the monitoring officer is referring this application back to the planning committee again.

"We are not opposed to the development of the site, but have concerns about this scheme because of many issues. We are concerned about the density and dwelling design, the problems associated with access, flooding and drainage issues. It is also felt that no further housing estates should be built in Long Stratton until a by-pass is in place."

Derek Blake, the council's cabinet member for planning, housing and the built environment, said: "I am satisfied that officers have now come to the same conclusion as we did before the election. Back in April, we called for this to be referred straight to the main planning committee but this option was rejected by the previous administration.

"We said at the time that taking this to district-wide, main planning committee was right for the residents of Lime Tree Avenue and right for the developers, because it would allow the application to get the widest consideration.

"Six weeks later, we welcome the fact that this is now going to happen, but regret that it will still take a further month to be decided."

He added: "I welcome the fact that the application will now come before main planning for determination as this will give the opportunity for additional and more detailed evidence to be presented on both drainage and highway grounds."

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