Appeal lodged over Heacham housing proposal

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Community leaders have called for residents to repeat their objections to a major housing plan after developers lodged an appeal.

Proposals for 70 new homes, 60 care-supported housing units and a care home on land off School Road, Heacham, were rejected by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee in February.

But a government planning inspector will now decide if the scheme should go ahead after the applicants, Broadland Housing Association and Townsfolk Limited, submitted their challenge to the authority’s decision.

Peter Colvin, chairman of Heacham parish council, said he was not surprised at the move and wanted residents to join them in making the case against the scheme.

A consultation exercise will be held to give residents the chance to comment on the appeal before any hearing takes place.

And Mr Colvin said: “We’re using every means at our disposal to encourage people to carry on objecting.

“If they don’t hear about it, they think it’s gone away, which is probably what the developers are banking on.”

In refusing planning permission for the project, councillors accepted officials’ arguments that the plan would harm the character of the surrounding area and the nearby Norfolk Coast area of outstanding natural beauty.

They also maintain that, if approved, the scheme could prevent more suitable sites being developed, or lead to too much development that local services could not cope with.

But, in their appeal statement, the developers claimed that the scheme had been proposed in response to a need for specialist accommodation for the elderly, which has still not been met six years after it was first identified.

They have also accused the council of failing to explain how the surrounding area would be harmed by the scheme, insisting: “There would be none.”

The developers pointed out that Natural England had not objected to their proposals, adding that the borough’s assessment of the impact was disputed by their specialist advisors.

And the firms further suggested it had not been shown that other, better sites were available for housing in the village.

The document continued: “Even if there are such sites, this proposal does not prevent them being brought forward.”

The latest scheme was brought forward after a larger application for 200 homes was rejected by the borough council last summer.