Town councillors oppose third housing bid for Downham Market site

Views from the footbridge over the A1122 Downham Market/Denver area view of part of the planning area looking over farmland, the road leads to the roundabout with the A10
Views from the footbridge over the A1122 Downham Market/Denver area view of part of the planning area looking over farmland, the road leads to the roundabout with the A10

Councillors in Downham have voted once more to recommend the refusal of a major planning application in the town.

At an extraordinary meeting of the town council on Wednesday, members voted to suggest turning down the application for up to 250 homes on land off of Nightingale Lane.

This is the third time this year that the council has recommended refusing an application for this location.

Earlier plans for up to 300 homes were refused by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee in April, after which a new application for up to 300 homes was submitted to the committee by the Grosvenor Partnership 3 at the end of May.

The developers have now submitted an amended application for up to 250 homes.

At the meeting on Wednesday, the council heard from members of the public that, despite the reduction in the number of dwellings, concerns regarding the town’s infrastructure remain unchanged.

Len Algar said: “My objections to this development are mainly on the grounds of infrastructure. There is a need for more car parking and better transport.”

Council member Malcolm Starreveld said: “Infrastructure always has to come after, as the developers are the ones with the money.”

Jenny Groom said: “There is a certain amount of inevitability to this, however, it doesn’t mean we can approve it. It’s a lot of houses.

“I’m concerned about the number of units per hectare. The national average is one thing but we are actually a rural market town.

“The way things are going at the moment, we are getting quite cramped developments, and the manner of the town is changing. I think that’s something we should resist as much as possible.”

The town council voted unanimously to refuse the application, but permission to build 170 homes, which was granted in 2016, will remain.

The council’s official response, submitted to West Norfolk Council’s planning committee, said: “‘Despite a reduction in density to a proposed 35.7dph (dwellings per hectare) this is still out of keeping with the surrounding area.”

The council said their previous reasons for recommending refusal had not been answered, and therefore those remain valid.

They added that, should development proceed, they would want to see a greater proportion of starter homes for “young local townspeople”.

Their previous reasons for refusal included a loss of allocated green open space and the extra pressure on the town’s infrastructure.