Anger at plans for Lowestoft homes and marina

Brooke meeting at Whitton Hall. Pictures: MICK HOWES

Brooke meeting at Whitton Hall. Pictures: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

More than 120 people opposed to plans for a major redevelopment in south Lowestoft carried out a peaceful protest this week – showing their determination to fight the proposals.

Chain linked to fencing at part of the proposed development site, angry residents hit out at the resubmitted plans for the Jeld Wen playing field, County Wildlife Site (CWS) and Brooke Business Park.

The strength of feeling against the plans for up to 850 homes, a new primary school, marina, retail developments and a new spine road were laid bare during a residents' meeting at Whitton Hall on Tuesday.

Here, locals were updated on the revised plans submitted to Waveney District Council by Cardy Construction Ltd, which has been working with London-based architects and agents in Norwich.

With more than 150 objections to the proposals, it is understood that the resubmitted plans will be discussed by Waveney planners later this month.

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And this week, those opposed to the development conducted a ribbon campaign – with messages such as 'outrageous', 'no more traffic' and 'unbelievable' – among the comments that have now been put on fencing at the site.

The development sites off Waveney Drive – which were once home to the Brooke Marine boatbuilding business and the Jeld Wen joinery factory – cover more than 45 acres.

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But major fears were expressed by residents, including campaigners Steve Jefferies and Mike Warner – who gave presentations on the night – along with Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, and Waveney District councillors Nick Webb and Sonia Barker.

Among the concerns raised was the additional traffic that will be generated by the cumulative impact of two large housing developments concentrated in the area – 850 houses and a school on the Jeld Wen playing field, the heathland behind it, and the Brooke Industrial Park – as well as the 350 homes to be built at the former Sanyo site.

With 'tens of thousands of lorry movements', and no roundabout included in the proposals, there were widespread fears raised about the traffic impact from the 1,300 homes earmarked for the area, plus those who would potentially use the school, on roads like Heath Road, School Road, Victoria Road, Waveney Drive and Kirkley Run.

Mr Jefferies said: 'This new proposal actually looks like the last one – with just four houses that have gone, that is it. With no roundabout and more traffic lights proposed, I personally think that it's not suitable for the traffic volume they are proposing. In the council's Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood (SUN) development brief there are so many references to protecting biodiversity in Lowestoft, yet they want to build on it. They are clearly going against their own policies.'

With people also angry at the loss of the football playing field and the heathland, which is designated as a County Wildlife Site, there was also concerns raised over the developer's claims that more jobs would be created – when the campaigners claimed than 100 jobs will be displaced from companies currently using the Brooke Industrial Park.

Mike Warner, from Heath Road, said: 'The comments of councillor David Ritchie, are purely fantasy. He says that a considerable number of jobs during and after construction will be provided. During construction mainly gangs from around the country are utilised for such developments with little benefit to increasing available jobs locally and post construction provides a couple of jobs in a small marine equipment shop – maybe 30 jobs at the school with about 120 jobs being lost or displaced to other areas from the Brooke's Business Park.'

Mr Blizzard called on people in the packed tenants hall to 'fight' the proposals, and submit further objections. He said: 'What is wrong here is that all of Waveney's housing for the next two decades has been concentrated in the one place. I don't think this is the future for Lowestoft.'

Addressing the concerns this week, David Ritchie, Waveney District Council's cabinet member for planning and coastal management, said: 'Far from there being considerable job losses, it is predicted that some 120 new construction jobs will be created as part of the development. Once complete, there will be a further 123 jobs provided on the site from the school, retail outlets and marina building. Furthermore, the council has identified 46 hectares of employment land for development in and around the town – including 12 hectares on the former Jeld Wen factory site – and, because it will still be some years before development reaches the peninsula itself, there is sufficient time for the council to support existing businesses on the site to relocate.

'With respect to traffic issues, no objections have been received from either the highway authority or the Highways Agency.

'Meanwhile, although it has always been known that there would be some impact on the County Wildlife Site, these proposals will actually enhance the whole area for the benefit of wildlife and local communities,' he added.

'At present the wildlife site is not managed and is largely inaccessible. Without intervention and proper management, it would continue to scrub over with the loss of remaining open grassland habitats and limiting the value of the site to common lizard and invertebrates. However, with this development, the small reduction of the wildlife will be properly managed and existing wildlife habitat actually enhanced and increased.

'Additionally, although the development will see the loss of the existing Jeld Wen playing fields, this amenity will in due course be relocated to the northern part of the Sanyo site and the developers will make a financial contribution to achieve this,' he added.

'The council's Core Strategy, Area Action Plan for Lake Lothing and the SUN Development Brief were all prepared with extensive public consultation. All plans received widespread, cross party political support and received very limited objections from the public.'

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