Business hub approved despite flooding concerns

The former Cemex site in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The former Cemex site in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Controversial plans for a new business park in a Norfolk town were approved by councillors despite concerns about potential flooding not being addressed.

The Breckland District Council planning committee voted in favour of the plans to build an office, retail and employment hub on Yaxham Road in Dereham which could see 100 new jobs created.

Issues surrounding the appearance of the site, described as oppressive by the planning officer's report, did not derail the application which had been recommended for refusal.

Instead the lack of a response from the local flood authority as to whether the development would lead to an increased risk of flooding caused consternation in the committee meeting room.

The decision will see the former Cemex UK site be regenerated for business use provided the flood authority do not object to the development when they respond.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Lewis Mantle said: 'We are not aware of any members of the community including neighbours who have registered any disapproval to our plans, instead we have seen many posts of support on social media.

'This is an industrial site, we are already proposing a very low site compared to national standards and five of the nine units are sheltered by high level mature trees.'

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Despite a lack of a response from the flood authority about potential risks, the applicant, Norfolk Land Development, pushed the planning committee to make a decision on the future of the site after being given the choice of deferring the application.

However, pressure from a potential future tenant of one of the units saw the offer turned down by the developers.

The chairman of the committee, Nigel Wilkin, said it was the first time he had offered the choice of whether to defer the application.

He said: 'We are very open to the idea of employment, it is what we want on this site. I still feel there is an element of debate but I feel we are being pushed into this by the person who is looking to lease this building.'

After nearly hour of debate and questions, the committee voted against refusing the application by six votes to three and was then approved seven votes to three.