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Proposal for 19 new Downham houses rejected despite costing council 'lots of money'

Controversial plans to build 19 houses in Downham have been rejected by the borough council this morning.

The application for land to the south of Prince Henry Place had been deferred in July so consultants could come back with more information on the proposal.

And a planning committee voted against the application this morning by a margin of six to two votes. There were six abstentions.

An application for 19 new houses next to Prince Henry Place was rejected by a West Norfolk planning committee on Monday
An application for 19 new houses next to Prince Henry Place was rejected by a West Norfolk planning committee on Monday

Chairman of the committee, councillor Chris Crofts, said refusing the application will cost the borough council " lots and lots of money."

He said refusing the initial application cost the council around £5,000.

The impact on the wellbeing and mental health of elderly residents living on Price Henry Place through the construction of new houses was discussed during the meeting.

Downham town council clerk Elaine Oliver said the town council objected to the application.

She told the committee: "The town council remains concerned about the large number of vehicles going through Prince Henry Place. This largely homes elderly and disabled people.

"Prince Henry Place creates a haven for the frail and vulnerable in our community and this application threatens that haven.

"The uncertainty of this scheme has already caused distress and worry. A similar site in Downham has taken 11-years to finish, so it can take a long time to build which is not satisfactory."

Agent for the application, Ian Hale, said the site lies within the development area of the town.

He also told the committee the application now addresses concerns raised by planning inspectors including traffic noise and disturbance caused by construction.

Mr Hale added that Highways had not raised any objections to the proposal.

But councillor Terry Parish proposed the committee refuse the application after no significant changes had been made since its deferral.

He added: "We should refuse because of the adverse impact on the quality of life which for residents is twofold. Traffic passing though past front gardens used by residents, some of whom are in wheelchairs, and disruption to existing wildlife are the biggest concerns to those on the estate."

Councillor Parish's proposal was seconded by councillor Shimit Patel.

Mr Patel raised concerns regarding the Howdale Road junction and access for emergency vehicles on the proposed site.

Speaking on the junction, Mr Patel said: "I still do not think that junction is adequate. A lot of small children aged 13 to 16 are walking there during school term and I think it will be a case of fatalities."

Councillor Sandra Squire said she could not accept the application.

"The residents think it's not acceptable. Just because something is in the development area does not mean it should be developed," she said.

Chairman of the committee Chris Crofts said: "This has been a building site for many years which was allocated a long time ago.

"Sympathy is not a planning reason. When it comes to this particular site, if you turn it down, you have to be very careful as it's public money."

Councillor Bob Lawton said: "You mentioned the costs. The wellbeing of the people living on that abode is far more important than costs in dwellings."

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