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Diss Town Council objects to 142 homes plan at packed meeting

Land north of Frenze Hall Lane, where a 142 homes plan is proposed.
Land north of Frenze Hall Lane, where a 142 homes plan is proposed.

Diss Town Council has recommended refusal on a planning application for 142 new homes, claiming it would have a “significant” impact on the town’s roads.

Persimmon Homes has lodged a planning application to South Norfolk Council for the development, of which 47 of the proposed dwellings would provide affordable housing. Dubbed ‘Manor Gardens’, it would be built on land north of Frenze Hall Lane.

Diss Town Councillor Simon Olander
Diss Town Councillor Simon Olander

The principle of development on the site has been established by the adoption of the Local Plan by South Norfolk Council, which Diss Town Council objected to in consultations in 2012, 2013, and to the Planning Inspector in 2014/15.

South Norfolk Council will have the final say on the plans.

At a packed planning committee meeting on Wednesday attended by dozens, residents told of their concerns over the plans. These ranged from how large vehicles and lorries would be able to access the site for its construction, and lack of privacy for existing residents and the impact on the roads, drains, schools and health services.

The town council backed residents by recommending refusal on the plans, with councillor Simon Olander telling the meeting it was “time to fight” the development, by making views known to South Norfolk Council.

There should have been a full meeting, with the size of this development, and the impact on surrounding roads and infrastructure in the town
Diss Town Councillor Simon Olander

In its response to South Norfolk, the town council said it could support the development if a number of factors could be agreed upon, and expressed the “very significant concern” of how construction traffic could access the site. These include traffic calming measures, safe footway access to and under the railway bridge to support national walking trails including Angles Way, visibility improvements at the Walcot Green junction, and second site access to Walcot Green to reduce the impact of extra traffic on Frenze Hall Lane.

Other cited issues included medical provision in the town and the requirement of a landscaping buffer between the new and existing development, while it was claimed 142 homes was an “overdevelopment” of the site.

It concluded its response by stating: “Diss Town Council appreciates Persimmon Homes willingness to consider issues/concerns raised and as previously stated, would welcome an opportunity to meet with all parties including the highways authority, the planning officer and the applicant to include a public meeting if possible, given the level of public feeling expressed at the Town Council meeting with regard to this application.”

In an impassioned plea which drew a round of applause from the public in attendance, Cllr Olander criticised Persimmon Homes, claiming the concerns of residents had not been listened to at a previous consultation event on the plans, as well as the planning inspector for allocating the site for development.

Diss Town Councillor Mike Bardwell
Diss Town Councillor Mike Bardwell

“In my eyes, and the people I have seen who were there that night and put their thoughts to them, they have ignored everything that was said at that meeting on that night,” he said.

“Yet again this is a major development for Diss, and in their own words, South Norfolk Council say anything over 50 dwellings is a major development — we are nearly three times that. And here we are, with well executed plans that I believe have probably been on the board over at Long Stratton (South Norfolk Council offices) without any input from the local town council, or the people sitting in this room here.

“This shouldn’t be a committee meeting tonight with a 20 minute or 40 minute spiel from residents. There should have been a full meeting, with the size of this development, and the impact on surrounding roads and infrastructure in the town.”

He also told of his disappointment that no one from Persimmon Homes, Norfolk County Council, or representatives from South Norfolk Council, except for district councillors, were present at Wednesday’s meeting to speak.

“Here we are again, saying we can’t do a lot because it is going to go through. No — Wymondham...had big fights with South Norfolk Council and it’s time for Diss Town Council to actually stand up and actually fight with them,” he said.

Fellow councillor Mike Bardwell described Diss as “full to overflowing”.

“I am totally against this development,” he said. “This really is the straw to break the camel’s back.

“I can assure you (the public) we will make as many representations as we can to Norfolk County Council Highways, to Norfolk County Council, and obviously to South Norfolk Council, who will have the ultimate say.

“I do not believe this is right for the town, speaking personally. We haven’t got enough infrastructure for the town.

“I can assure you we will fight it as best we can and we will try and get the best deal we can. However, it is unfortunate in this day and age that is appears developers seem to run roughshod over communities.”

All 29 public comments on the South Norfolk Council planning portal object to the proposal.

The application, 2015/2496, can be viewed online at www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/planning

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