'Our community is being pushed to the brink', say Gaywood protestors against new housing bid
A major housing scheme in Gaywood would push the community "to the brink of collapse" if it is given the go-ahead, objectors claimed today.
The stark warning was delivered as dozens gathered to protest against plans to build more than 200 new homes on land off Parkway.
Hundreds of people have also signed a new petition against the scheme.
But demonstrators who gathered at the site this morning are determined to fight the proposal and protect what they say is a vital open space for their community.
Resident Christine Merry said she had seen 40 people using the area on Friday alone, even as Storm Eunice brought high winds and widespread disruption to the region.
She says local people are angry at what is being proposed and claimed to have spoken to 350 people who are opposed to the scheme.
She said: "My main aim is to get across the views of the residents of Gaywood. They do not want this build
"They believe it will push the community to the brink of collapse and they seen no future if this build goes ahead.
"Now that is a very sorry state of affairs when you have a community that is so close-knit and so tight. This could ruin this community. It is that serious."
A total of 226 properties are envisaged on the site within a new proposal drawn up after a much larger development was scrapped by the authority last year.
Documents submitted as part of the new application say the Parkway project is "of strategic importance" to the borough council and insist areas of open space would still be available to residents if the scheme is given the go-ahead.
But critics say the development would make existing congestion along nearby Queen Mary Road far worse and have slammed a new flood risk assessment submitted on the council's behalf.
Liberal Democrat county councillor Rob Colwell highlighted an extract in the document which suggested residents would be advised "to seek refuge at the upper floors on site" if flood waters on evacuation routes are more than 30 centimetres deep.
The paper, which has been published on the council's planning website, insists the development would be safe from "breach flood risk" because of the height of access roads and ground floor accommodation in properties with no upper level space.
But, although it has dropped its previous objection to the scheme, the Environment Agency has demanded assurances that there is no alternative to what is now being proposed.
Mr Colwell said the area was a "prime risk site" for potential flooding.
He later added: "People don't feel they are being listened to. It is smaller [than the previous application], but the problems still remain."
Opponents have also highlighted the objections of Sport England, who have called for a £300,000 financial contribution to improve sports pitches in the area to make up for the loss of the open space, which is a former playing field.
A new petition, headed #SaveOurGaywood, has already attracted more than 350 signatures via the 38 Degrees campaign platform and further supporters signed up at the protest.
More than 2,500 people backed a similar campaign against the previous development proposals in the area.
A decision on the new application is expected to be taken at a borough council planning committee meeting on March 7.