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Wymondham affordable homes plan in balance

PUBLISHED: 11:22 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:16 14 July 2010

A "much-needed" affordable flats development on the edge of Wymondham was hanging in the balance today after being held back by flooding and environmental concerns.

A “much-needed” affordable flats development on the edge of Wymondham was hanging in the balance today after being held back by flooding and environmental concerns.

Broadland Housing Association wants to build 12 flats on a former nature reserve next to the new Windmill Surgery to help address the demand for new low cost homes in the area.

But the scheme between Friarscroft Lane and Old London Road was looking less likely yesterday after being deferred to overcome flooding fears and concerns about the impact on local wildlife.

The housing association has warned that funding for the affordable development, which includes three wheelchair accessible flats, will end if work does not start by the end of the financial year in three months .

Members of South Norfolk Council's planning committee spoke of their “regret” at not being able to approve the scheme, which has received opposition from the Environment Agency and the authority's own ecologist.

The council-owned greenfield site, which is earmarked for housing development, was once part of the nearby county wildlife site, Toll's Meadow, and is still used by bats, owls, and water voles, say objectors.

Ed Mumford-Smith, from Broadland Housing Association, told councillors that there was an immediate demand for more affordable homes in the town.

“There is no other suitable site in Wymondham. The last affordable flat in Wymondham had 142 applications for it and we would need 12 similar sized sites to meet local demand,” he said.

But Chris Trett, South Norfolk Council planning officer, said that the flats were proposed to be built on top of a natural spring and the land was subject to flooding. He added that a management plan needed to be put in place to improve the biodiversity of neighbouring land to compensate for the loss of habitat caused by the affordable homes.

Martin Wynne, chairman of the planning committee, added: “I am very supportive of affordable housing wherever the application site is correct and achievable. I personally do not feel with the information we have been given that this site can achieve what it ought to achieve.”

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