Town Council supports old station yard proposal

Reepham Town Council has supported in principle a planning application for the old station yard, Reepham.

The developers of the site are proposing a development comprising 290 m2 of office space, a 420-m2 Central England Co-operative convenience store, a 70-bed care home, 24 two-bedroom assisted flats, 15 two-bedroom assisted bungalows and a club house/assembly room.
At an often-heated extraordinary council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday 1 August, with more than 70 people in attendance, several residents of Stony Lane, who would be most affected by the development, strongly voiced their objections.
Their main concerns include: the destruction of a hedgerow and the removal of a large number of trees; the scale of the development with a three-storey care home (artist's impression above); and the impact on local services, particularly the overstretched doctors’ surgery and limited public transport.
“The rural nature of Stony Lane, which is popular with dog-walkers, would be destroyed,” said one resident.
Other concerns raised were the potential for light pollution from the care home and noise from the convenience store, surface water and foul water drainage, and vehicle access onto both Stony Lane and Cawston Road.
“We are not against the principle [of the development], but the density,” added another resident of Stony Lane.
A key suggestion was to alter the proposed layout, with the assisted living units, which are currently placed down the hill on the western side of the site, moved up nearer the convenience store for easier access, particularly for those with restricted mobility.
“[The developers] haven’t thought about the needs of the people they are proposing to live there,” the meeting was told. “CAM architects need go back to the drawing board.”
Representatives of both Kerri’s Farmhouse Pine and the Smuggler’s Lane surgery said neither business had been approached by the developers or Broadland District Council about the plans.
Scott Goodson of Kerri’s Farmhouse Pine, which has been trading on the site for 25 years, said the impact on his business had not been addressed.
In particular, it would lose its roadside signage and he was also concerned about the proximity of houses proposed near the western end of the goods shed, which operates as a furniture manufacturing workshop.
Kerri’s also provides parking for users of Marriott’s Way, but it was not clear how this facility would be shared in future, said Mr Goodson.
However, several residents and carers attending the meeting voiced their support for the development, arguing that Reepham needs this type of care home and assisted-living facility that would allow older people to stay among their social networks.
Elderly residents moving from large homes into sheltered accommodation would also free up housing for younger people and families to move into the town, it was argued.
Rex Warner, who has been involved in local green issues for many years, noted that the site is already allocated by Broadland for a mixed-use development and has been in the pipeline for many years.
He pointed out that that the location is an overgrown, brownfield site and an optimum place for a desperately needed care home and sheltered housing, compared with a greenfield site.
“Reepham also needs more office space to enable new businesses to establish and existing businesses to grow,” he said. “Meanwhile, the food retail business taken as a whole will increase economic activity and employment.
“[The plans] probably represent the optimum use for the site. The overwhelming view is to support the proposal.”
During the meeting, Ian Malton of CAM Architects was not prepared to answer questions (as had been planned by the Town Council), but he did make a brief statement.
Mr Malton pointed out that Broadland is solidly behind this particular scheme, which has been developed over the past two years on an allocated, brownfield site, which will require an “immense” amount of money to clean up. He did, however, note residents’ concerns and will be taking these back to Broadland.
Following the discussion, the Town Council unanimously supported in principle the planning application (no. 20180963), noting a number of concerns raised at the meeting.
It is understood the plans will be dealt with by Broadland’s planning committee in October.
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