Protesters’ joy as homes plan in Lowestoft is refused

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to build 39 new homes on a patch of land in north Lowestoft were hailing a victory for 'people power' this week after the proposals were rejected by a government inspector.

Two weeks ago, a hearing was held at Lowestoft Town Hall after an appeal was lodged by Flagship Housing over Waveney District Council's decision to refuse plans for the homes on a site off Woods Loke East.

Planning inspector John Papworth heard evidence from Flagship, the council and from a number of local residents opposed to the scheme.

And this week it was announced that the appeal had been turned down.

The news comes as a welcome relief to campaigners who have spent nine years fighting three separate proposals to develop the site.

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In 2002, plans by Badger Building for 25 homes were turned down and two years ago, in July 2009, a similar application was put forward by Wellington Construction Ltd.

But it was withdrawn before a decision was made.

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Last year, Flagship Housing, which provides affordable housing across East Anglia, submitted its plans for 39 homes, consisting of one and two-bedroom flats and one, two, three and four-bedroom houses.

In June last year, the housing group's planning application was thrown out by Waveney District Council on the grounds that the homes would be detrimental to the character of the area and impact on wildlife, and because there were plenty of brownfield sites elsewhere in the town available for development.

News of this week's decision has been warmly welcomed by local people.

Keith Patience, Waveney district councillor for the Normanston ward, told The Journal: 'I have basically been working on this for nine years with the residents, who all spoke and put their case forward at the hearing.

'Obviously we're very pleased and it worked out very well in the end.

'We believe that now this will be the end of it and, while there has been the case put forward for affordable housing, there are units at St Margaret's Road, a site at the former Longs Dairy and the Woods Meadow development all in the pipeline.

'So it is not a complete loss of affordable homes.'

In reaching his decision, Mr Papworth – an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – said: 'It is concluded that the quality of the development is insufficient and that the benefits of the scheme, including in furthering the aim of planning for growth, do not outweigh the real and long term shortcomings...

'The views of local residents and other interested parties have been taken into account in reaching this decision and for the reasons given above it is concluded that the appeal should be dismissed.'

Welcoming the ruling, a Waveney District Council spokesman said the inspector had taken into account the likely impact on wildlife habitats; the use of brownfield sites; the character and appearance of the area; the provision of private amenity space, the safety of parking and play areas and the risk of flooding.

'Other considerations given among the concerns of local residents were the increase in traffic on Wood's Loke East, the nature of the turning onto Oulton Road and the ability of the road to bear heavy construction lorries as well as the disruption foreseen,' the spokesman said.

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