Parish Response to the Billingford Lakes Application

Breckland Council Planning Committee 8th May 2018

3 minute address (by the H&W Parish Chairperson)

Under consideration is the third application to develop this 140 acre site situated in the River Wensum valley, recognised in local policy and the recently-agreed emerging local plan, as a natural asset worthy of special protection. * On two occasions, at packed meetings and entirely independently Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting has considered the application at considerable length. It unanimously reached the conclusion that what is proposed would cause considerable harm to the landscape of this precious part of our natural heritage.

This is the same conclusion that was separately arrived at by other local groups, a local ward member, our Member of Parliament, a landscape and visual impact report and is entirely consistent with the decisions of two appeal inspectors reporting on two smaller but very similar proposals at this site. This committee was urged by the case officer for the last of those smaller applications to approve the matter and only at the eleventh hour, when the appeal inspector’s report arrived, was the recommendation changed: the inspector was unequivocal in his findings that the proposals would not protect the river valley landscape but cause it significant harm and therefore not meet the environmental dimension to sustainable development.

We cannot see that those matters are now addressed but you are advised, as before, to approve the proposals and assured again that the impact they will have on the character and appearance of the landscape are considered to be acceptable. That clearly subjective assertion is the polar opposite of the equally valid conclusion reached by our parish meeting and others I have mentioned. They are greatly concerned about the detrimental and permanent impact on a diminishing asset that we cherish and hold in trust for future generations.

The officer’s report argues you have a duty to decide this issue in accordance with the relevant policies but even if you find there is a conflict with the policy to protect this river valley the advantages to tourism must outweigh that. We do not read the policies that way and can only conclude that their intention and weight is to preserve the natural legacy we have inherited, for those who follow behind us. We ask you to do that today and refuse this application.

  • Inserted at the meeting. Before continuing I wish to correct the impression given by  the case officer’s report and presentation this morning, that the river valley hugs the banks of the river. In fact it takes in the whole of the area covered by this application.

Comments are closed.