Agenda item

Watton, Saham Road: Proposed Residential Development for Hopkins Homes: Reference: 3PL/2010/0639/F (AGENDA ITEM 12)

Report of the Chief Executive.


Councillor Bowes declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this item.  She exercised her right to speak on the application before leaving the room.


It was noted that all Members had received direct representation about this application.


This application was for 91 dwellings on three parcels of land which were surrounded on three sides by existing housing.


The site was outside the Settlement Boundary on a site not identified through the LDF process.  It met some of the criteria of PPS 3, being well related to the town, with good access to facilities and with a high standard of layout and design.


However, there were concerns about the ability of the infrastructure to deal with the development.  The sewage system could not cope and there was a risk of flooding.


Another issue was that the affordable housing element of the proposal was not well integrated with the rest of the development and currently the parking areas were visually dominant, although this could be overcome.


Overall the development did not meet all requirements because of the unsuitable drainage and it was therefore recommended for refusal.


Mr Rudling, representing the Town Council, said that they and the residents were strongly against the proposal which was not in keeping with plans for the town.  91 additional homes would impact on the schools, doctors and wildlife and there were serious concerns about drainage and flooding.  Finally he drew attention to the exit from the site over the bridge to Swaffham which was a dangerous, narrow road.


Mr Upton, objector, said that there were already sufficient sites to provide housing up to 2026 which would still maintain Watton’s market town status.  The infrastructure could not support such growth and there was no major employment in the area.  The area was prone to fluvial flooding as the site acted as a natural soakaway, being the lowest point in Watton. 


Mr Smith, for Applicant, said that the Environment Agency were comfortable with the proposal in principle.  He was aware of the drainage/sewerage concerns which were caused by problems with the network.  The sewage treatment works did have sufficient capacity and the network problems would be resolved.  Highway and landscape issues could also be overcome.  They were aware of the deficiencies in the layout and were happy to address them.  He felt that all issues could be overcome.


Mr Gilbert, Ward Representative, ask Members to refuse the application which was outside the Settlement Boundary and not on a ‘preferred’ site.  He thought it was one of the worst designs and layouts he had seen.


Councillor Bowes, Ward Representative, supported the residents and Town Council in objecting to the proposal.  She said the site was rural in character and the boundary would be blurred if the development went ahead.  The urban style was detrimental to the area and would put pressures on the sewerage system.  There were many new houses in Watton which were not selling.  She urged Members to refuse the application.


Councillor Bowes then left the room.


A Member agreed with the remarks about the poor design and was also concerned that if approved the development might impact upon the leisure complex at the Golf Club.


RESOLVED to refuse the application on the following grounds:


1)                   that the development would be contrary to local and national planning policies that seek to restrict new housing development outside development boundaries;

2)                   that the proposal would conflict with local policies relating to affordable housing and housing mix;

3)                   that the proposal would be likely to exacerbate existing sewerage capacity problems in the area; and

4)                   subject to any further comments from the Environment Agency, that there was inadequate assessment of the potential flooding problems.

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