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Plans for 62 new homes near beauty spot causes worry over environment

PUBLISHED: 11:56 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:07 08 May 2018

The design for the proposed new visitor centre at Billingford Lakes.  Picture: BD&M (UK) Ltd

The design for the proposed new visitor centre at Billingford Lakes. Picture: BD&M (UK) Ltd

BD&M (UK) Ltd

Controversial applications to build near to beauty spots in mid Norfolk are set to be considered by Breckland Council's planning committee.

Billingford Lakes. Picture: Ian BurtBillingford Lakes. Picture: Ian Burt

Both of the proposals, which are due to be heard on May 8, have been recommended for approval by planning officers despite widespread opposition within the community.

Taylor Wimpey’s application to build up to 62 properties next to land listed as one of the most valuable nature habitats in Norfolk has been met with more than 430 objections from members of the public.

The planning officer acknowledged the opposition to development, near Neatherd Moor in Dereham, but notes that it “is not a reason for refusing planning permission”.

The report goes on to state that the proposal would be acceptable as it would not result in the loss of the Neatherd Moor and would not cause “any significant harm to the appearance, setting, and enjoyment” of the moor.

Billingford Lakes. Picture: Ian BurtBillingford Lakes. Picture: Ian Burt

Another approval recommendation has been given for an application to build a visitor centre and eight holiday lodges on Billingford Lakes, near Swanton Morley.

The application that was the vision of well-known entrepreneur Basil Todd, who passed away in 2015, has a complex history and was initially given permission in April 2017 but it was resubmitted and will be seen again.The planning officer notes in his report that there are “no material considerations that justify refusal”, and the development is likely to attract thousands of visitors.

However objections have been raised over noise, light, traffic and the potential impact on wildlife.

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman wrote a letter to Breckland Council in March 2017 and questioned why the application was being heard after stating that it was the third application to be submitted and it has repeatedly been denied.

The design for the proposed new visitor centre at Billingford Lakes.  Picture: BD&M (UK) LtdThe design for the proposed new visitor centre at Billingford Lakes. Picture: BD&M (UK) Ltd

His letter went on to say: “The likes of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Wensum Valley Bird Watching Group are all against this application, highlighting the damaging effect it will have on the area. Local residents are worried that this third application will pave the way for further development, potentially industrial, which is out of keeping with the area.”

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