Diss Town Council strongly opposes 100 homes plan for Frontier Agriculture site

Site picture of Frontier Agriculture in Diss. ANL-150325-145455009
Site picture of Frontier Agriculture in Diss. ANL-150325-145455009

Diss Town Council says it is strongly opposed to the idea of a potential 100-home development at one of the town’s major industrial sites, on the grounds the town infrastructure could not sustain it.

A screening opinion process was launched earlier this year on a tentative proposal by farming services organisation Frontier Agriculture to construct about 90 to 100 properties at its Diss premises, located off Sandy Lane.

The screening opinion is due to be completed by May 4, to determine whether an environmental impact assessment must be conducted before a formal planning application is submitted.

But during a meeting of the Diss Town Council planning committee on Wednesday, councillors agreed unanimously it did not consider the proposal suitable for the plot based on the current information, drawing a consensus it “would not benefit” the town.

In a statement prepared at the meeting, the council said: “Although it is appreciated this is a screening opinion in respect of environmental impact, the town council would like to register its objection to the principal of residential development on this site, on the basis it is unsustainable and would create an unacceptable additional stress on the highways network.”

Graham Minshull, the committee’s acting chairman, added: “I would be very surprised if South Norfolk goes against their plan where they have zoned for industrial use. If they do, they open up the floodgates on every other piece of land.

“I also think it would be a real shame if the jobs were lost from there.”

The council voiced similar infrastructure concerns earlier this month following a different pre-application proposal by McCarthy and Stone to build 40 homes near Diss Health Centre - a plan it is also opposed to in principal.

The Diss Express contacted Frontier Agriculture to ask what such a development could mean in terms of relocating the facility and what implications this may have on local employment, but the company said it would not be able to comment until the proposal reached a later stage in the planning process.

However, a planning statement issued in March described the area is inappropriate for Frontier’s business activities, in light of the high volume of HGV movement around the site, and claimed the company might benefit from a move to a more suitable location, such as a dedicated business park.

Initial discussions suggested a property development of this kind would warrant a total clearance of the existing site, which currently consists of numerous administrative, storage and laboratory buildings, car parks, vehicle circulation areas and several large crop storage silos, visible to many in the town.