Planning application to build 137 houses off Norwich Road, ACLE

The Parish Council have raised serious objections (see below). Certainly that many new houses in Acle will have a dramatic effect upon the local services and cause more congestion in the village.

There are also many questions that arise about the proposed development, inter alia (not in any particular order):

  1. Has an archaeological survey taken place as there is a great possibility this could be the site of a Saxon or Roman habitation as there are wells present? St. Edmund’s church is a testament to the age of the village and its surroundings.
  2. What facilities have been put in place for elderly or the disabled? We all eventually become elderly and many of us of all ages will also become disabled? There appears not to be any dropped kerbs or space for emergency vehicles.
  3. Are the pavements wide enough to accommodate a pram or a wheelchair?
  4. Will there be suitable street lighting?
  5. Parking is a major issue in the village as the original houses that were built in this village were before the advent of the motor car and so there was no need for spaces to park cars. Today most families have one car and many have two or more, especially where there are families with older children. Are the roads in the development wide enough to allow parking for cars, visitors or residents and still allow easy passage of cars along the roads?
  6. Will the council refuse collection vehicles be able to access the roads to collect bins if there are cars parked on the roads?
  7. Is it on a flood plain?
  8. Has a consultation taken place on the requirements for medical professionals, social services and education?
  9.  How many bungalows will be built and will they be on the perimeter so that surrounding houses are not overlooked?
  10. Do ‘ancient light rights’ apply for the surrounding houses?

On the issue of healthcare provision the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership have made a submission to Broadland District Council which makes interesting reading – available here.

Acle Parish Council has strongly objected to the plans. Whilst Parish councillors accept that the site has outline permission for housing, it is vital that it is a good quality development.

The proposed 137 houses have been squashed onto the site with little apparent regard for the quality of life for future residents or for adjacent neighbours. The councillors believe that the site cannot support 137 houses.

There is very little open space, small front gardens and, in some cases, small rear gardens. A few pieces of play equipment are suggested, to the west of the site, but this is not adequate for the likely number of children who will live on this site. It is a long walk to another play space in the village. Although a hectare of informal open space is offered to the village to the west of this site, in lieu of green infrastructure levies to mitigate the impact of the development, it would be better if fewer houses were proposed, each with larger gardens.

The Parish Council feels that the provision for vehicle parking on the site is inadequate. It appears that the parking for nearly all properties is in-line so that residents will have to park their cars one behind another. This is inconvenient for many people so residents will no doubt park on their front verges. The allocated parking relies, in many cases, on the space in a garage to achieve the required number of spaces to meet the minimum requirements of BDC’s Local Plan and Acle’s Neighbourhood Plan. Very few people park their cars in a garage these days so it seems unrealistic to include this space in the calculations. Also the plans for the garages do not show the dimensions so it is not possible to verify that they would be wide enough for a modern family car to be parked inside and the doors opened comfortably.

There are only 4 parking spaces on the site that are not allocated within private curtilages, so any visitors or tradesmen will have to park on people’s front lawns. This is not acceptable and has been raised at the outline planning stage and when the developer attended a parish council meeting in June. Many housing estates are blighted by parking issues, with cars parked on verges and issues for delivery vehicles and refuse vehicles, and the parish council is keen that better parking is provided on this development.

Some plots shown as 4-bed/ 8 person houses, with 4 double beds indicated. Some appear to have semi-detached garages shared with the adjacent houses, with two in-line parking spaces for each house, next to the adjacent house. This will not allow any flexibility for parking for these houses, for 8 people. The allocated parking is inadequate for 8 people in the houses.

Some plots are shown as 3-bed/ 5 person bungalows. There is only one parking space shown for each of these houses, together with one garage each. If garages are used for storage, then there is no flexibility for parking, especially with plots where the front gardens are tiny. The allocated parking is inadequate.

With several plots, the parking seems to be two in-line spaces per house, behind the rear gardens for the houses. We all know that people are lazy and will park out at the front rather than walk round the corner to their cars, especially when loading/unloading shopping and/or children. Will there be gates in the rear fences to facilitate easy access to their parking spaces?

The proposed housing mix for the north-east corner has also been raised both at the outline stage and with the developers. A condition on the outline approval was that all properties with a shared boundary with neighbouring properties on St Edmunds Road and Norwich Road should be single storey with no openings in the roof.  The consultation drawings at the parish council meeting in June showed bungalows along their boundaries. This has been changed and at least one plot, possibly two which adjoin the boundary of 30 St Edmunds Road are both two-storey houses.

Those residents who live on Mill Lane next to the north-east corner of the estate wonder why they are not valued the same as these other neighbours. The residents at 33 Mill Lane live in a chalet bungalow, with their bedroom on the ground floor at the back. The proposed plans show 8 or 9 two-storey houses which will overlook their bedroom and garden. The residents at 31 and 31a Mill Lane will have at least 2 two-storey houses overlooking their houses. The residents at no: 29 Mill Lane will have 4 two-storey houses overlooking their garden. The new houses adjoining all existing houses should be treated the same and should all be single-storey with no openings in the roof.

No details have been seen for which roads are to be adopted by NCC and which will be private roads. The Design & Access Statement states that the “secondary roads” are 5.8m wide, including a 1m wide “service strip”, so only 4.8m wide. It is not clear if this “service strip” means a tarmac surface or a grassed area. The pictures of the 3D models do not show any pavement on these secondary roads. Will pedestrians have to walk on the roads across half the site? If so it would not be safe for children, buggies, the elderly etc.

The bin collection points for the houses are shown on the Refuse Strategy page in the Design and Access Statement. Each orange dot represents the storage space for 2 or 3 wheelie bins and each red dot represents the allocated space for 1 or 2 wheelie bins awaiting collection, (depending if residents have brown garden bins). Some of these dots are on areas which are shown on other drawings as being hedges, trees, lawns or even open space, so it seems disingenuous to show these as green places if they are to be allocated bin collection points!

Some dots are missing. Some of the flats have only one red dot, whereas there will need to be a collection point for 4 – 8 wheelie bins for these 4 flats, and the storage space for these 8 bins (could be more if anyone has a brown bin) is right outside the front windows of the downstairs flats. This does not seem appropriate. Some plots do not appear to have access to their rear gardens, each being the middle house in a terrace of three. How will they store their wheelie bins in their rear gardens, as shown?  Other terraced groups on the plan show rear access to the garden of the middle flat. The collection point for the 8 bins from some plots appears to be the front garden of an adjacent plot.

This drawing also suggests that the refuse lorries will be able to drive on some of the “secondary” roads but not others. Clarification is needed as to which roads are to be adopted and evidence submitted that the roads and junctions are of adequate size for larger vehicles such as refuse lorries.

The outline planning permission requires an emergency access from Mill Lane, with bollards so that a fire engine/ambulance can access the site if the only other access is blocked. The plans show a narrow track at the north of the site, adjacent to a hedge and some trees on “formal open space”.  Has confirmation been provided that this track is wide enough for a fire engine and that no parking will be permitted on the adjacent road/pavement as well as on Mill Lane at this location, so as not to block emergency access?

We understand that at least two neighbouring properties on Norwich Road draw their water from wells which are filled from water arising from this site. They have repeatedly raised both the concern of contamination from the construction phase as well as from people living on the site, and also that the supply of water to their wells could be reduced by the water management scheme proposed for the new properties. Can these residents please be given the necessary information so as to reassure them about their water supply?

The application proposes a post and rail fence to the western boundary. The councillors request that a native hedge be required along the full length of this boundary so as to reduce the visual impact of the site when approaching the site from the west, similar to that recently required by BDC for the boundary of Acle’s new cemetery off Pyebush Lane.

Various residents have requested protection of their hedges where they form the boundary with a new house and have expressed concerns about the future maintenance of their hedges.

The councillors have previously asked the developer to ensure that vehicle movements during construction are managed so that HGV vehicles only approach the site from the west along the A47, but without any response. Given that there is no way of approaching the site from the east without driving along Acle Street, it would make a huge difference to the village if deliveries were managed in this way.

Whilst it is appreciated that outline permission has been granted, the councillors wanted to mention again their concerns that the village cannot easily cope with 137 additional houses. The sewage system is already overstretched and the doctors’ surgery has long waiting times. Also, whilst the Rossi Long report suggests that the impact on the village of the arising vehicle movements will be “negligible”, if only half of the new residents turn left out of the site, this will be a large number of additional vehicle movements along the main street.  The councillors also continue to have concerns about the safety of the tiny roundabout at the entrance to the site and its proximity to the slip road from A47.


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