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Fears over holiday cabin plans

PUBLISHED: 20:42 15 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:55 02 June 2010

Watton residents have raised “serious concerns” about proposals for a holiday development on a site which they say is prone to flooding.

Paul Garner Developments Ltd has submitted outline plans for eight cabins on the boundary between Watton and adjacent village Saham Toney.

Watton residents have raised “serious concerns” about proposals for a holiday development on a site which they say is prone to flooding.

Paul Garner Developments Ltd has submitted outline plans for eight cabins on the boundary between Watton and adjacent village Saham Toney.

But people living in the neighbourhood are worried that, if given the go-ahead, the buildings will stay empty most part of the year, attracting vandals and anti-social behaviour.

In a letter sent to residents, the developer tried to allay their fears, insisting the cabins “will be modest in proportion,” “provide a variety of mainly three bedroom units with attached garages,” and are “sound in construction, not modular, using vernacular materials of timber boarding to maintain the cabin appearance.”

Brian Lucy, whose garden borders the site, is not convinced by the proposed scheme.

“Who has heard of holiday lets with attached garages, or with three bedrooms,” he said.

“Why do we need more holiday lets when nearby similar accommodation cannot be used and is up for sale. Watton has very little to offer in the way of tourist attractions. If times are hard for the tourist hotspots on the coast - what chance does Watton have?”

The scheme was discussed at a meeting at Saham Toney parish council on Monday night last week when the council indicated it was opposed to the proposals.

“We have serious concerns because the site floods regularly,” Mr Lucy explained.

“We moved here 16 years ago and we've had problems ever since. We had a 90-year-old man at the meeting on Monday night saying he used to play in the water on that field because it flooded not by the river but by the surface water that runs into it.

“We have terrible problems with sewage which backs up all the time as soon as you have any heavy rain. Everything gets blocked, it backs up and it overflows into that field. In the middle of the field there is a big manhole and we've seen water coming out of it, like a fountain. Anglian Water said they would jet blast all the pipes at least once a year to keep them flowing. The pipes are very old.”

Paul Garner said the Environment Agency had carried out a study to ensure that any potential developments would not be at risk from floods.

“We wouldn't have put in an application if the Environment Agency had not been happy with the results of their study,” he said.

He added: “The site will have to be made very secure. We're going to make it of general use and obviously we're going to police it ourselves”

A spokesman for Breckland Council said the application was still in its early stages and said people who have any concerns should write to the council.

“This is an outline application and all they're asking for is an approval in principle. The drawings submitted are only indicative. “Even if permission is given to the outline application, they [developers] will have to come up with a full application which is subject to a second round of approval.

She conceded that the development proposal is in a flood plain, but insisted that under current planning laws, applications in such areas are not necessarily disallowed. She said approvals depended on the degree of risk involved.

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