Full report: Lowestoft's Brooke Peninsula homes planning meeting
A controversial decision to approve the first stage of plans to regenerate a large swathe of Lowestoft by building up to 850 homes, a primary school, retail units and a marina has been heralded as "fantastic news" for the town by a senior council leader.
On Wednesday night, Waveney District Council’s development control committee backed an outline planning application by Cardy Construction to develop the Brooke Peninsula and former Jeld Wen playing fields to open up the waterfront.
The decision was welcomed by Stephen Ardley, deputy leader of Waveney, as an essential part of the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan (AAP) to breathe fresh life into large parts of Lowestoft.
However the granting of the outline planning permission came amid strong opposition to the plans from south Lowestoft residents and some councillors who fear the development would pose traffic problems – with only one access road on Waveney Drive.
They also fear the plan could cause 120 job losses and see the loss of greenfield land. They argue that more work is needed on the plans to make them viable.
Mr Ardley said: “This decision is fantastic news for Lowestoft and the concerns raised have been clearly addressed by the planning process. The scheme will deliver much-needed affordable housing, jobs and a genuine attraction for visitors and will entirely lift the town
“The AAP was developed and delivered with full cross-party political support to help deliver landmark developments like this and we are now beginning to see the fruits of our labours.
“Waveney is fully committed to transforming Lowestoft for the better and this is another huge step forward for the town and those who live, work and visit here.”
Speaking at the meeting against the plans, Nick Webb, councillor for the Whitton ward, said: “This application takes away the only green area in the hundreds of acres of brownfield land south of Lake Lothing.
“This application takes away 38pc of a designated County Wildlife Site.”
Malcolm Pitchers, of Pakefield ward, said: “I am not happy about the traffic situation and the safety.”
Also speaking at the meeting was Steve Jeffries, who is spearheading a residents’ campaign against the peninsula plans.
He said the development would lead to travel times increasing, the numbers of jobs falling and that Lowestoft’s infrastructure would “fail”.
Councillors heard a separate pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting the marina side of the development to north Lowestoft would be a priority for council planners to help make the development a viable proposition.
Councillors Julian Swainson, of Harbour ward, and Graham Elliott, of Beccles North, had wanted assurances the bridge would be included in the overall plans and that it should be built before the peninsula development was completed.
Mr Swainson said: “You get the infrastructure down first.”
Philip Ridley, chief planning officer, said: “You have my assurance and commitment that the planning authority will do its best to endeavour to secure the delivery of the bridge.”
Supporting the plans, Sue Allen who represents Southwold, said; “You must have your houses in place to encourage business.”
The meeting also heard traffic surveys showed there would be no major impact and that about 120 construction would be created and then a further 120 jobs created once the work was finished.
After the meeting businessman Peter Colby and Bob Blizzard, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, who both want the land kept as an industrial area to generate jobs, criticised the yes vote,
Mr Colby called the decision “foolish beyond belief” and Mr Blizzard said it was a “staggering” proposal.
Another campaigner against the plans, Mike Warner of Heath Road, said another residents meeting would be held about the development to see what can happen next and that the council was gambling on “Lowestoft’s future”.
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After the meeting David Ritchie, Waveney’s cabinet member for planning and coastal management, said the development would actually enhance the whole area for the benefit of wildlife and local communities.
He said: “At present the County Wildlife Site is in private ownership and is completely inaccessible. It is not looked after and it is not a place for people to visit and enjoy.
“Without intervention and proper management, it would continue to scrub over; with the loss of remaining open grassland habitats that would limit the value of the site to, for example, common lizards and invertebrates.
“However, with this development, the reduction of the wildlife site’s size would be mitigated by proper management and cultivation of the site. “The existing wildlife habitat would actually be enhanced and improved and, in addition, areas of known contaminated land will be removed from the site, opening it up for up for the local community to enjoy.”
Mr Ritchie also said the Jen Weld playing fields will not be lost but relocated to the northern part of the former Sanyo factory site.