Harleston residents stand ground in opposition to to proposed development
Tensions over plans to build more than 100 new homes in open countryside have heightened this week after a letter was submitted on behalf of the developer.
The letter read as a bullet point-style rebuttal of concerns put forward by residents so far, and was published in the wake of widespread flooding on Christmas Eve.
It came just one day after Lynda Ling, clerk to Redenhall with Harleston Town Council, submitted a consultee comment, outlining why the town council’s planning committee felt the proposal – on land south of Redenhall Road in Harleston – should be refused.
The town council’s response centred of concerns surrounding road safety, overlooking, disturbance, environment, flooding and infrastructure, echoing those already mentioned by residents.
In its submission, Martin Last, representing Last & Tricker, which is listed as the agent of developer Ruby Homes (East Anglia) Ltd, addressed each of the town council’s concerns, with one or two sentences explaining why these issues would not be a problem.
He went on to say: “Approximately 50 local residents have commented on this application.
“Harleston has a population of approximately 5,000 people; the number of representations can, therefore, be considered low – just one per cent of the population.”
Mr Last then listed 12 key concerns which he sought to address with his own response.
The letter has done little to set residents’ minds at ease, with some who live adjacent to the proposed site still dealing with damage from the recent flooding.
Mike Poynter, who is in his 70s and lives close to the site in St Mary’s Close, said: “According to the application, flood water will be dealt with on site, which is a pretty vague explanation that doesn’t really address the problem, or offer any sort of solution.
“It goes on to say that flooding will not be any sort of an issue. As we’ve already seen over Christmas, it clearly is an issue, with excess water from the elevated site running off it. I can’t see how this problem won’t be made worse once the area is covered with concrete.
“Within the Greater Norwich Development Plan (GNDP), there is a list of potential development sites which are suitable or unsuitable. This site is specifically listed as not suitable for development.
“I’ve had some experience with the inner workings of councils myself, and this developer would not have gone to all this expense and trouble putting together reports, consulting people and spending tens of thousands of pounds unless it had already discussed the plan with the council and basically got a nod and a wink from them.”
Mr Poynter pointed out that comments made in Mr Last’s letter about the 110 houses not putting undue strain on infrastructure failed to take into account the various sites in the town which have been deemed suitable for development under the GNDP, and the hundreds of extra houses those will ultimately bring.
He added: “More than one person I’ve spoken to has read Mr Last’s letter and described it as abrupt and dismissive of everything the residents have been saying.”
The application is expected to be ruled on by South Norfolk Council in the coming weeks.