Town flats could cater for migrant workers, says developer

Eastern European EU workers picking rhubarb in Norfolk. Photo: Bill Smith

Eastern European EU workers picking rhubarb in Norfolk. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2009

Flats created above a number of high street stores will appeal to eastern Europeans who have moved to the region to work on farms, developers say.

Watton High Street has seen shops disappear across the years. Picture: Marc Betts

Watton High Street has seen shops disappear across the years. Picture: Marc Betts - Credit: Archant

An application has been submitted to convert unused commercial units into six flats in High Street, Watton, by Robi Investments.

The company has already had planning permission approved by Breckland Council for three homes on the site but now wants to double this.

Ibrahim Kaya, from Robi Investments, said: "We are aware that the town has a large number of working class people, mainly from eastern Europe working in the farms around the area. This is apparently estimated at around 7,000 to 8,000."

According to research carried out by the developers, it has been highlighted that a large number of these workers live above shops and Mr Kaya said he can improve the standard of living.

The area where the flats will be built. Picture: Marc Betts

The area where the flats will be built. Picture: Marc Betts - Credit: Archant


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He added: "We were told by the residents and estate agents that most of these people live in rooms above the shops on the high street and the conditions of these rooms are not up to the normal living standards.

"Therefore we believe the town needs similar plans for small, cheap, but decent properties for these mainly single working people or couples to live."

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Watton, like many other market towns, has a high street with a number of empty units.

The flats will be created behind the Cecil Amey Opticians, charity shop Barnardo's and Favorite take-away. These plans will not affect the businesses, with the units remaining open.

The properties have been designed to work within the currently unused parts of the existing building with no need for additional construction work.

The application said: "The town centre is in desperate need for single person housing and by means of minor alterations to the building the character of the area and the building would be preserved.

"The change of use would put the current vacant unit to use and would provide accommodation for local people."

Because of the town centre location no parking has been allocated.

Documents can be found at www.breckland.gov.uk/planningbuildingcontrol.

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