Homes plan would help Methwold ‘thrive’, developer claims

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Councillors have been urged not to let a village “wither and die” by rejecting plans for a new housing development.

A decision is expected today on the proposal for 30 new homes on an area of open space on Crown Street, Methwold.

The issue was deferred for a site visit to take place during a meeting of the authority’s planning committee on Tuesday.

But, despite opponents’ concerns over the impact on nearby landmarks and a lack of services, applicant Stephen Storey insisted the benefits presented by the scheme should not be lost.

He said the site was in walking distance of existing shops and facilities.

He added: “We must let the centre of our village thrive and leave the horse and cart days. They’ve gone.

“This is a great opportunity. Let’s not waste it.”

However, council officers, who recommended refusal, said the plans would cause “substantial” harm to the surrounding conservation area and seven Grade One and Two listed buildings around the site.

They include the Grade One St George’s Church and Old Rectory, as well as the Grade Two New Hall.

Resident Jim Marriage, who spoke against the plans, told the committee: “The location is wholly inappropriate.”

And Mary Moat said the existing open space, which objectors say they can currently access via a network of footpaths, would be “totally oblitterated” if the plans were approved.

But committee member Tony White said he could not see a problem with the scheme.

And Chris Crofts initially proposed the committee approve the application, telling his colleagues: “You can’t ask for a more sustainable area.”

However, principal planner Stuart Ashworth “strongly recommended” the committee made a site visit before taking such a decision.

He said: “We have a legal duty to protect conservation areas and that is what this rests on.”