Stone curlews could halt proposed housing development near Watton

Stone curlews could put a stop to a 177-home development. Picture: Chris Gomersall/

Stone curlews could put a stop to a 177-home development. Picture: Chris Gomersall/ - Credit: Chris Gomersall/

A rare bird could put pay to a bid to build 177 homes on the edge of a town.

Stone curlews nest in the Brecks and there is a buffer zone to the south-west of Watton where Tesni Homes hopes to build a housing estate.

However, Breckland Council's officers have suggested councillors give the scheme for Mallard Road the go ahead when they discuss it at a planning committee meeting on Monday, December 14.

About half the site covers the stone curlew buffer zone and the RSPB has objected to the development. The land is within around 1,300m of the Breckland Special Protection Area.

The officer's report states: 'Although outside the settlement boundary, the proposal would be well related to the built form of Watton and would not result in an unacceptable intrusion into the countryside.'

It adds: 'Potential impacts on local ecology have been carefully scrutinised and found to be acceptable.'

The applicant believes the development will provide 'high-quality homes' which will fit in with the character of the town.

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Breckland has received more than 240 representations on the scheme with many within the town raising fears over the impact on infrastructure and overdevelopment being voiced.

The RSPB has said in a letter to Breckland that it believes the supporting information provided by the applicant is 'flawed and fails to understand the scientific evidence underpinning relevant planning policy'.

Breckland and Watton councillor Keith Gilbert described the application as 'absolutely disgraceful'.

He said: 'For a start the majority of it is in the stone curlew buffer zone and I am surprised to see that the report says an environmental impact assessment was not needed.

'How can you have a development within the stone curlew buffer zone without an environmental impact?'

He added that the three story flat blocks included in the designs were not in keeping with the surrounding estates.