Decision on new 255-home estate pushed back over traffic concerns
PUBLISHED: 11:17 24 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:17 24 June 2019
A decision over plans to build more than 250 homes in a Norfolk town has been deferred - after controversially being brought to committee before the end of its consultation period.
Breckland Council's planning committee had been asked to consider Hopkin Homes' proposals to build off Yaxham Road in Dereham on Monday - despite the period for members of the public to have their say still hanging over it.
The move, from the council's outsourced planning department Capita, was criticised by many - including mid-Norfolk's MP George Freeman, who said making a decision would jeopardise the public's trust in the planning system.
However, while the application was discussed at the committee, members voted to put off the decision until a later date.
Independent councillor Roger Atterwill proposed the deferral, citing major concerns over how the town would be able to cope with the additional traffic a development of this size would bring.
He said: "Traffic in Dereham is already abysmal and with many other applications approved in the town there is an accumulative effect."
While Norfolk County Council's highway team has not objected to the application, Mr Atterwill called on a representative to attend the next planning meeting to justify its position.
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Meanwhile, Rebecca Collins, Breckland's head of major projects, defended the decision to bring the application to committee before the end of the consultation period.
She said: "Five consultations into the application have taken place since it was first submitted in 2010 and we feel the issues have been covered.
"Therefore, it was brought to committee on the arrangement that should any further material consideration be raised it can be discussed again.
"While we do not do this frequently, it is fairly common practice."
The application, which was originally deferred for highway concerns five years ago, calls for 255 homes to be built on land off Yaxham Road and Dumpling Green.
Within this 255, 46 homes would be affordable houses, equating to 18pc of the overall development.
However, a variety of concerns were raised by neighbours to the development, with Dereham's town clerk, Tony Needham, who likened allowing the development to filling up a bath with 30pc more water than it is designed to hold.