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Boost for waterfront plans

PUBLISHED: 10:55 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:46 05 July 2010

Major plans to carry out half a billion pounds of regeneration of waterfront sites across Lowestoft cleared a major hurdle last night after a new report looked set to remove flooding fears.

Major plans to carry out half a billion pounds of regeneration of waterfront sites across Lowestoft cleared a major hurdle last night after a new report looked set to remove flooding fears.

Opposition from environment chiefs had threatened to derail the ambitious project, including plans to build a new council and science headquarters, but a fresh study appears to have saved the day.

Leading international design and engineering consultancy Scott Wilson has submitted a report insisting the flood risk to eight development sites around Lake Lothing would be vastly reduced as long as the land is raised in height.

Last night, the Environment Agency (EA), which recently opposed early plans for the £52.7m Waveney Campus project, gave a clear indication that an agreement was imminent.

Simon Barlow, the EA's development control team leader for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “We continue to move in the right direction and once we have ironed out the detailed design, Waveney Campus should become viable in flood risk terms.”

The statement follows a series of high-level meetings stretching back several months involving the EA, the 1st East Urban Regeneration Company, Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council.

Along with the Waveney Campus building, which will house 1,000 staff from both councils and the Cefas science laboratory, the construction of new shops, offices and thousands of new homes will take place across the town.

Sites include the Brooke Peninsula and the former Oswald's boatyard, and it is estimated about 1,000 new jobs will be created.

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee said: “The very nature of our local environment means that it has always been important to work positively with the Environment Agency. We are delighted with the news that we are able to build on this relationship and continue to work together to find solutions that will help us regenerate the area.

“This positive and groundbreaking approach will send out a clear message of confidence in future development and investment in the town.”

National planning policy places strict development restrictions on sites in a flood plain and while the EA cannot stop a development, refusal to accept its recommendations could result in the application being called in for public inquiry by the government.

The new report into the Lowestoft flood risk also claims that the proposals to raise land on development sites would also provide increased protection for some existing homes in the event of serious flooding.

“Philip Watkins, chief executive of 1st East, said: “It would have been very easy to see the obstacles as too difficult to overcome…

“There is no doubt that this study will provide the confidence that private sector developers need to bring forward the proposed residential, commercial and retail developments that are identified in the regeneration plans for the town.”

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