Developers unveil bid for new homes, shops and care facilities in Swaffham

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Proposals for a major new development of homes, medical and care facilities plus shops on the edge of Swaffham have been unveiled.

Developers, who hope to submit a planning application for the land off Brandon Road by the end of the year, held a public exhibition of their plans at the George Hotel yesterday.

But concerns are already being raised about the potential impact of the proposals on the area.

Abel Homes is proposing to build around 160 new homes on the site, plus a care home, sheltered housing units, a doctor’s surgery and shops.

Managing director Paul LeBrice said they were already in discussions with two convenience store operators and officials from a town doctor’s surgery about the scheme, though he stressed any practice move would be subject to securing NHS England backing and funding.

The company hopes that it could begin building work late next year or early in 2019 if planning permission is granted.

But he insisted that Breckland Council’s current lack of an adequate supply of housing land, which can make it easier to secure permission for development, was not a factor in bringing forward the proposal now.

He said: “We were working on this before the lack of land supply happened. We’ve had an option agreement on this land for some time.

“It’s not just a residential development. We’re trying to bring services to the community that is already there.”

He also pledged that the non-housing parts of the scheme would be developed first if it gets the go-ahead.

But many of those attending the exhibition were unhappy with the proposals they saw at the Station Street venue.

A straw poll that was being taken outside the hall appeared to show around two-thirds of respondentswere against the scheme during the first two hours of the exhibition.

Inside, nearby resident Richard Mackenzie said he understood why the site was being put forward by the company.

But he fears that the area’s existing infrastructure will not be able to cope with the extra demands that would be placed upon it.

He said: “On the A1065, at weekends, the traffic already goes way back.”

Concerns were also raised about the potential for extra traffic accessing the site via the town centre, where there are already known problems with air quality.

But others argued that the new facilities would be welcomed.

Mr LeBrice said the firm would take public views submitted through feedback forms provided at the session into account before submitting it submits an outline planning application to the district council.

He said: “We will collate the responses and build into our plans what we can.”

Feedback forms from the exhibition can still be returned by post to Lydia Voyias, Savills UK Ltd, Unex House, 132-134 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PA or email to lvoyias@savills.com by next Friday, October 13.