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Contentious plan to build 100 new houses in historic West Norfolk village gets go ahead

A resident described the decision to approve 100 new homes as a "death knell" for her village.

West Norfolk Council's planning committee voted yesterday for 30 houses on Furlong Drove and 70 houses on a greenfield site next to Lynn Road in Stoke Ferry.

The move will see the village's former mill demolished before work begins on the second site at Furlong Drove.

Stoke Ferry
Stoke Ferry

Despite supporting the decision to abolish the mill, concerned residents believe the housing will destroy the village's reputation as a historic centre when grade listed buildings such as Stoke Ferry Hall require more attention.

Resident John Preston claimed consultations carried out on behalf of the applicant, Amber REI Limited, were a "box-ticking exercise".

He and other villagers set up their own public consultation to gather residents' thoughts.

Protests against the housing applications for Stoke Ferry. Pictured on the far right is John Preston is spoke against the applications during the planning committee meeting in Lynn Town Hall
Protests against the housing applications for Stoke Ferry. Pictured on the far right is John Preston is spoke against the applications during the planning committee meeting in Lynn Town Hall

He said: "Eighty-five people came with one month's notice and the results were pretty unanimous. The need for green spaces, community livelihood, all the things this application will destroy.

"It's a failure of the system that those comments exist outside the planning application."

But David Onions, director of planning for the applicants' agents, the Pegasus Group, said conditions had been proposed by the planners including one barring development on the Furlong Drove site before the mill is demolished, and one for a second access point which was initially raised by the parish council.

The new village sign at Stoke Ferry
The new village sign at Stoke Ferry

He said: "We undertook a special exhibition and attended three parish council meetings. To say we have not undertaken any public consultation is not true."

A decision on the applications was deferred during a planning committee meeting in July to allow further discussions between officials, parish councillors and concerned residents.

But parish councillor Kit Hesketh-Harvey said: "Do not insult us with further characterless houses, we have been insulted enough.

"Let's think about the future we could all build together to turn this dark, satanic mill back into a green and pleasant land."

The 70 home scheme was approved by seven votes to four by planning committee members.

And the second 30 house site at Furlong Drove was voted through by nine to three with two abstentions.

A proposal to develop a masterplan covering both sides was defeated before votes on the two applications were passed.

Speaking after the first vote, resident Anne Sorrigan said: "I am just shocked really and very disappointed. Those historic buildings will be abandoned. They have just signed the death knell for our village."

She earlier told the meeting: "Stoke Ferry has been badly let down for many years. The once beautiful listed buildings used as officers and storage are crumbling, neglected and filthy yet nothing has been done."

Councillor Alun Ryves highlighted the strain extra people would bring on the village, referring to the primary already being "full to capacity".

And committee member Martin Storey said: "This is the chance of a lifetime to put Stoke Ferry back onto the map with all the heritage it has. We have to get this right."

He also said a "good relationship" needs to be established between residents, parish councillors and developers, suggesting they meet every five months.

Committee chairman Chris Crofts said the costs involved would be "colossal" if the application was to be deferred or rejected.

But independent Terry Parish said: "It should not rely on building houses to pay your bill."

And Mr Storey added: "Let's not rush through with a decision. Do not mention about the money as that is not relevant."

But a planning officer said all applications have to be "viable and profitable" or they will not go forward in the first place.

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