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What do you think? Reydon to have say on controversial Easton Bavents erosion homes project

PUBLISHED: 10:06 28 September 2012 | UPDATED: 10:39 28 September 2012

Save The Smere posters have been placed around Reydon. The posters are protesting against the proposals of new homes being developed on 'The Smere'  Picture: Nick Butcher

Save The Smere posters have been placed around Reydon. The posters are protesting against the proposals of new homes being developed on 'The Smere' Picture: Nick Butcher

© Archant 2012

Campaigners have emerged victorious in a battle to have their say on a scheme to build new houses in Reydon for homeowners threatened by coastal erosion.

Waveney Pathfinder board chair, David RitchieWaveney Pathfinder board chair, David Ritchie

Yesterday (Thursday September 27), board members behind The Waveney Pathfinder initiative promised to “directly engage” with villagers from Reydon before they press ahead with plans to build nine new homes for people from erosion-threatened Easton Bavents.

A series of workshops will now be held between local people and representatives from the Waveney Pathfinder board to reach an agreement over where a development could be established.

But Waveney Pathfinder have not ruled out the possibility of building at Rissemere Lane East – despite being met with vociferous opposition.

A spokesman for Save the Smere, a campaign group launched to protect Reydon from the scheme, said they welcomed the consultation extension, but will remain sceptical until they have seen the details.

Smere Corner resident, Ian Johnson is trying to stop the development of new homes being built in an area of outstanding beauty.Smere Corner resident, Ian Johnson is trying to stop the development of new homes being built in an area of outstanding beauty.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Waveney Pathfinder board, David Ritchie, said the board had listened to concerns and was committed to “earning the trust” of people in Reydon. He said: “We have listened and we recognise the very clear strength of feeling within the Reydon community and, although these were initial ideas, it is clear that a collaborative approach, directly engaging with residents is the best way to achieve practical solutions and earn trust.

“The board is determined to work with everyone to clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen and to seek valued input from a wider range of people before agreeing a way forward that is acceptable to the wider community.

“With this in mind, the next step is for the board to set up workshops, with a range of local people invited to debate and discuss various issues to date and establish the criteria for a successful and mutually agreeable outcome.”

The Waveney Pathfinder project sets down a land rights transfer policy that allows people in Easton Bavents to relocate to safe sites inland and build similar properties under the same planning permission.

The outline permission originally applied for by Waveney Pathfinder in Reydon would establish that the land can be developed, but further planning consent would be needed before properties could be built.

Six possible sites were identified in Reydon by planning consultants Pellings, including land at Wangford Road, land at the western end of Easton Lane, land north for Smear Farm and two plots near Lowestoft Road. But the land at Rissemere Lane East was preferred by people in Easton Bavents and deemed affordable by Pathfinder.

People in Reydon were angry at not being consulted when planning advisers identified possible sites for development in the village.

Meanwhile, fears were also raised about the potential encroachment of the development onto Reydon Smere – an area of outstanding natural beauty which adjoins the Benacre National Nature Reserve – and that property speculators might use the government-funded scheme to make a profit.

A spokesman for the Save the Smere campaign said: “While we welcome this extension and apparent opening up of the consultation we await details regarding the nature of the workshops, their range, their inclusivity and their power before removing our scepticism entirely. “Indeed, we also welcome the fact they have at last recognised the inadequacy of their earlier ‘consultation’, which barely deserved that label.

“If they are now willing to openly engage with all the affected communities – with fresh ideas and fresh thinking from all participants included – then that is, indeed, a welcome eventuality.”

●A date for the workshops has yet to be agreed, but the first is likely to take place in the next six to eight weeks.

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