Controversial King’s Lynn housing application referred to planning inspectorate

Russett Close residents are upset that an area of grass has been ploughed over and fenced off. ANL-140327-121921001
Russett Close residents are upset that an area of grass has been ploughed over and fenced off. ANL-140327-121921001
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Planners at West Norfolk Council will not be deciding the fate of a controversial planning application to build over a Lynn amenity area.

Members of planning committee were due to adjudicate on Boyer Investments’ application to build 81 dwellings on land off Russett Close at yesterday’s meeting but the decision was taken out of their hands after the developer lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate due to the amount of time taken.

Residents in Russett Close have been fighting against the application to save a popular amenity area, which would be used to create a road into the site.

Members of the planning committee unanimously resolved to refuse the planning application.

Campaigner Michael Coote has hit out at the council after his warnings about the timing went unheard. He had written to chief-executive Ray Harding on December 11.

Mr Coote said: “There are people who are paid a high salary to be in command and in charge but they have failed to see this coming. I flagged it up to them.”

During the meeting, Mr Coote told councillors that this application was a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the heads of Russett Close residents and the amenity area provided a safe place for children to play.

Ward member Mark Shorting told the committee that the land was maintained by the council for 20 years and that it was well used by residents.

In a letter read to the committee Mr Shorting said: “Residents have greatly missed the use of this piece of land since the developer purchased it 18 months ago and fenced it off.”

This latest proposal is a revision of an earlier scheme for 95 properties which was turned down by the borough council in March of last year.

A subsequent appeal to a government planning inspector was also dismissed in October.

During councillors’ debate, June Leamon raised concerns about air quality while John Loveless queried how the development would be linked up to the existing network of cycleways and footpaths.

David Collis called for a condition for the road surface to be completed and maintained in any subsequent planning permissions while Avril Wright said the safety aspect of the amenity area was of “paramount importance.”

Committee chairman Vivienne Spikings said the harm identified by the previous planning inspector on the loss of the amenity area still exists.

She said: “This open space is a huge asset for those people who use it and don’t want to lose it.”

Speaking after the meeting, resident David Reay was pleased with the council’s support.

He said: “We really want the developers to revert back to the original proposal to build a bridge over from Dairy Way and leave Russett Close alone.

“People bought their houses in Russett Close as it is a quiet small community.”

His wife Irene added: We moved there as it was a quiet close and we wanted to remain as a close.

“We have problems with lorries coming down the close and if there are several cars coming out of the new road it is going to be horrendous.”