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Plans for 180 new homes in market town may get go ahead despite water pollution fears

PUBLISHED: 17:39 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:39 22 May 2019

The location of the proposed development on Thetford Road. Picture: Google

The location of the proposed development on Thetford Road. Picture: Google

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A housing scheme promising up to 180 homes in a Breckland market town has been recommended for approval - despite reservations from the Environmental Agency and the NHS.

Gladman Developments Ltd has applied to build on a plot of land off Thetford Road in Watton - with an outline application due to be considered next week.

However, the Environment Agency has raised concerns that the development could pollute drinking water supplied beneath the ground.

The site's drainage is currently proposed to be managed by a borehole soakaway, which the EA has said would pose an unacceptable risk of pollution of groundwater.

However a risk assessment submitted with the application argues that groundwater lies deep enough beneath the soakaway that this would not be a danger.

Alison Craggs, of the EA though, said: "We would only agree to the use of deep bore soakaways once it has been satisfactorily demonstrated that alternatives have been explored and exhausted."

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Meanwhile, in its response to the consultation, NHS England has expressed concern that additional strain the development would place on medical services would be unsustainable, if not mitigated.

Lydia Burkett, an estates manager for NHS England said: "The existing GP practice does not have resource capacity to accommodate the additional growth resulting from the proposed development, which could generate around 414 residents."

She added that NHS England would be seeking a £10,000 contribution from the developer towards recruiting additional clinical personnel for Watton Medical Practice.

Strains on this particularly practice are nothing recent; in 2016 it was forced to join forces with the practice in Thetford in attempt to ease pressure on the two.

Despite the concerns, the application has been recommended for approval by case officer Fiona Hunter, who said additional residents would "support local business in the town and existing public transport services".

She added the development would close 85pc of a 211 house deficit in the council's homebuilding target, which she said was "a strong positive benefit".

Breckland's planning committee will consider the application on Tuesday, May 28.

Gladman Developments Ltd was approached to comment on the concerns ahead of the meeting but did not respond.

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