Planners approve holiday park
A contentious proposal to build a holiday park on a former garden centre which has caused deep rifts in a village has been approved by planners.But the scheme for 25 holiday lodges, 15 touring caravan pitches and a 15 space campsite at the former Breckland Garden Centre in Yaxham saw tears, harsh words and three votes in the council chamber as it was given the ok yesterday.
A contentious proposal to build a holiday park on a former garden centre which has caused deep rifts in a village has been approved by planners.
But the scheme for 25 holiday lodges, 15 touring caravan pitches and a 15 space campsite at the former Breckland Garden Centre in Yaxham saw tears, harsh words and three votes in the council chamber as it was given the ok yesterday.
The plan for the site, which sits on Dereham Road at the edge of the village, is the second submitted by the centre's owners after an application to build 50 holiday lodges there was refused earlier this year.
Breckland's Development Control Committee was told that the council had received a petition of more than 200 signatures calling for any development of the garden centre site to be stopped.
There had also been 27 letters of objection with concerns including traffic generation, pollution, and the development's impact on the surrounding area and nearby sensitive wildlife sites.
A further 160 signature petition supporting the application had also been received by officers along with 21 letters in favour of the holiday park plan.
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While the applicant argued that the development would bring economic benefits to the local area, those against the plan said it could increase flooding, contaminate fields and would result in the loss of farmland.
After having heard statements from both sides, ward member Cliff Jordan, said: “This is a 50/50 in the village.
“There are two polarised opinions and I am stuck in the middle of it.
“I have listened to both arguments and tried to put the arguments to the other side but there is no meeting of minds except on the issue that both realise the danger of the road.”
During debate on the proposal Nigel Wilkin said he believed that in the long term the development could be of benefit to the district and pointed out that with the economic downturn it was likely a lot more people would choose to remain in the UK for their holidays.
But Bill Borrett said he had concerns that as most of the lodges would be bought by individuals who could rent them out if they wanted - many of them would be empty a great deal of the time, thus reducing the economic benefits promised.
Various councillors raised concerns that the caravan and camping pitches could later be abandoned and more lodges built but were told this was not a planning consideration.
Mr Borrett described the application as a Trojan horse and said the council did have grounds to stop it.
An initial proposal to approve the application was rejected by 10 votes to six.
Members then had to give reasons for going against the officers' recommendations and issues of a lack of evidence on biodiversity and intrusion into the open countryside were given.
A second vote had to be taken on this and that was drawn.
There was visible tension in the room, with one woman in the public gallery wiping tears from her eyes, as a third vote was then taken and the initial proposal to approve was passed by nine votes to seven.
After the third vote Mr Borrettt said: “I just question why this came to this committee because plainly this committee had no choice.
“This was a complete farce.”