Fears for Downham Market nature reserve over housing scheme

Willows Nature Reserve, Downham Market ANL-140929-091701001

Willows Nature Reserve, Downham Market ANL-140929-091701001

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Community leaders have warned that a Downham nature reserve could be lost altogether if outline plans for more than 30 new homes are given the go-ahead next week.

Borough councillors will examine proposals submitted by the Grosvenor Partnership to develop land on Railway Road at a meeting in Lynn on Monday.

Officers have already recommended that the scheme for 32 homes is approved, as long as a legal agreement securing £30,000 towards afforable housing is completed within three months.

But the town council has raised several objections to the scheme, including what it fears could be the impact on the nearby Willows nature reserve.

In comments summarised in planning officials’ report, the town council said there was a “real risk of losing the Willows to development as it becomes totally surrounded.”

The authority added: “Public footpaths are an integral part of existing space.”

But one letter supporting the application argued that the proposed development site was an “eyesore” and suggested the scheme could even make it safer for people using the Willows site.

The applicants argue that the site is well positioned for development, with future residents able to access local services by either walking or cycling.

They also say the scheme would create “a wide range” of direct and indirect jobs and impacts on wildlife could be resolved.

The report also points out that planning permission was granted for 43 homes on the land in 2007, but lapsed without being implemented.

But opponents have expressed concerns about vehicle access, lack of associated infrastructure and flood risk from an adjacent drain, which they say is already close to capacity.

However, the developer maintains that flood risk concerns can be resolved.