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Controversial bid to build homes on Hethersett wildlife haven - 15 years after similar plans led to councillors’ resignation

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:57 07 August 2014

A planning application has been submitted to build 30 homes on a wildlife haven in the centre of hethersett known locally as the paddock. Resident James Utting what's planners to rethink the development.
Picture by: Sonya Duncan

A planning application has been submitted to build 30 homes on a wildlife haven in the centre of hethersett known locally as the paddock. Resident James Utting what's planners to rethink the development. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Archant norfolk

A controversial bid to build homes on a protected wildlife haven in Hethersett has been dubbed “a disastrous idea” by protestors - 15 years after similar plans caused uproar in the village.

A planning application has been submitted to build 30 homes on a wildlife haven in the centre of hethersett known locally as the paddock. Resident James Utting what's planners to rethink the development.
Picture by: Sonya Duncan A planning application has been submitted to build 30 homes on a wildlife haven in the centre of hethersett known locally as the paddock. Resident James Utting what's planners to rethink the development. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

The proposals, submitted to South Norfolk Council last month, would see 27 homes built on land between Queens Road and Jaguar Road, known as the Hethersett paddock.

Protected under South Norfolk Council’s local area plan, the paddock is known for its biodiversity, with overgrown shrubbery and three ponds playing home to ponies, sheep, dragonflies and a wealth of birds and insects.

Plans to build homes on the same plot of land in 1999 saw the village band together in protest, after the parish council’s decision to back the application led to a vote of no confidence and cries for their resignation.

James Utting, who has lived in Hethersett for 30 years, said he was “astounded” that another application had been submitted, adding that it could leave Hethersett “clinging to its village identity by a thread”.

“Villagers who can remember tha ttime and the strength of public feeling displayed are surprised that there’s a new attempt to develop the protected paddock.

“Hethersett has only recently had 1,200 new houses forced on it, despite almost unanimous local opposition and a hard-fought campaign,” he said.

The grandfather, of Henstead Road, added that the developers were adding “insult to injury” by seeking to “grab the paddock”.

David Bills, district councillor for Hethersett, said that application was in breach of “land allocated for use as public open space”.

He added: “Hethersett has more than taken its share of new houses, and this application not warranted.”

But Joff Brooker, director at Fleur Development, insisted that the plans would make the paddock, which has previously been off-limits to the public, a more accessible area.

“It has been designated as open public space in the past and all we want to do is to create a permanent and accessible area of space. The land will be carefully maintained by a trust to enhance and protect the current biodiversity of the area,” he said.

What do you think of the plans? Is more development in the village warranted? Contact reporter Lauren Cope on Lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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