‘Ancient site’ in Watlington will not see development

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A decision to approve plans to build dozens of new homes in a village in the borough has been overturned by councillors after conditions of the application were not met.

West Norfolk Council’s Planning Committee largely voted to refuse the application for 40 new houses in Watlington, following the decision back in April to grant permission subject to completion of an agreement.

This section 106 agreement, which would mitigate impacts that would arise from a development, was not received by the council within the four months stated when the original application was approved, and so planning officers brought it back to the committee with a recommendation to refuse.

Principal planner David Parkin said that as well as the deadline passing, the council’s position of five-year housing land supply had changed since permission was granted, which was a significant change in circumstances to the application.

It was said that since these changes were made, the development of the site was now contrary to development plan policies.

The committee heard from Dr Purves, a neighbour to the site, who objected to the development.

He said: “The application site is ancient, and is considered by many to be the old part of Watlington. It is also rich in wildlife and has had a huge number of objections to it. It is a very emotive subject with the people of Watlington.”

Supporting the case, applicant Adam Bell, of Bennett Homes, said that there were issues with fairness and inconsistency, and that he was concerned that some of the facts had been ‘misrepresented’.

He asked the committee to allow Bennett Homes an extension of time to complete the section 106 agreement.

The council’s solicitor Emma Duncan said the committee members had had all of the facts, including the timescale of correspondence with the applicant.

The committee voted to refuse the application, but councillor Chris Crofts said: “Watlington has got one of the three railway stations in the borough, so it’s not going to be a little hamlet. In due course, it will be a lot bigger than it currently is.”