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Diss Mere-side flat plans meet with opposition

Mere apartments
Mere apartments

Ambitious plans for new flats alongside the Mere in Diss have met with opposition from Heritage Triangle traders, nearby residents and the town council.

Under the scheme, two four-bedroom flats and one three-bedroom flat would be built.

The three-storey building would be tiered down the grass slope towards the Mere, next to the wildlife garden and floating boardwalk, which developers feel would make a “positive contribution to the area”.

But the plans have met with strong opposition, with one objector describing them as looking like a “monolithic lump” and a councillor as an attempt to build a “Swiss family Robinson-style ski lodge, surrounded by Diss”.

So far, 17 public objections have been lodged, and at last week's town council planning meeting, councillors unanimously decided to oppose the application, which will be heard by South Norfolk Council.

“The more I looked at it, the more convinced I was we had a problem,” said committee chairman Eric Taylor.

Mere apartments
Mere apartments

“There is so much being crammed into this important space, so much so, I worked out how much space is left, and it is exactly 50 per cent, and to me that is going over the top.

“A development in that area is possible but it has got to be much more modest and in keeping.

“The overall design does not blend in with the historic nature of this area. What summed it up for me was the perspective looking across from the council office car park; the galvanised sheets, whatever colour they paint them, would make it look as if there was a retail unit there. It would be a carbuncle.”

“It doesn’t take much thinking about, it is just a massive over development.”

Julian Mason drew attention to an objection by Brian Falk, one of the architects behind the Heritage Triangle Project.

He said: “I agree with the statement regarding what he describes as the ‘bulk and dominance of the proposed new building’, which really sums up my feeling that it is just inappropriate, too big and too visible, too overpowering.”

Regarding the cost of building the flats, Trevor Wenman said: “If they could pull this off, they could make a huge amount of money, as they (the flats) would be very desirable, and they could recoup what would be the unduly high costs of building it.

“It would, however, certainly be detrimental to the whole feel of the heritage triangle.

Mere apartments
Mere apartments

“It would be nice to have something there potentially, but this is clearly over-development of the site, and totally inappropriate.”

Simon Olander urged caution about the artist’s impressions seen so far: “I don’t want to dissuade the architects, but I do feel most architects are very artistic; creating a wow factor is there epitaph and, when they do it, they are built and done.

“So I appreciate it does look like a Swiss family ski-ing lodge, with the surrounding of Diss, but, personally, and having looked at some computer design renders, rather than artist’s impressions, I don’t think it’s a loss to do anything there. I just think we have to scale it back.

“We are crying out for single-story places and I would rather they try to make it a cul-de-sac effect. Put a glass pane overlooking the Mere, by all means, but keep the building low level, and low impact.

“It does also have an environmental wildlife impact and that area nearest to the Mere should be sacrosanct.

“It is the biggest water feature in south Norfolk and north Suffolk. It should be preserved.”

Cllr Wenman added: “Maybe they are putting in for something really big, on the grounds it will get thrown out, and agree a compromise. They are just doing their job.”

Mere apartments
Mere apartments

This article appeared in the Diss Express edition January 24, out now.

The paper also includes more comments from the Heritage Triangle Trust, nearby residents and shopkeepers.

What do you think of the plans:

Your letters are always welcome. Email them to editorial@dissexpress.co.uk; send by post to Diss Express, Norfolk and Suffolk House, Mere Street, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4AE, or simply drop your letter through the letter box. Please make sure to include your contact details.

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