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Controversial flats get go-ahead despite over-development fears

PUBLISHED: 08:22 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:10 30 January 2020

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

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

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Flats which developers said would appeal to eastern European workers have been approved despite objections from the town council.

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

An application from Robi Investments to create six flats behind shops in High Street, Watton, has been agreed by Breckland Council after opposition from Watton Town Council.

The town council feared the building would become over-developed and highlighted the site's lack of parking.

Vice-chairman of Watton council Jane Fountain said: "Our main concern was that, as it is a listed building, it wouldn't be the best use for it. We found that the access is very narrow, so I couldn't imagine how a car could get down there.

"There are parts of the high street which are dead because there is not any housing so it isn't always a bad thing."

The flats will be created behind the Cecil Amey Opticians, charity shop Barnardo's and Favourite take-away.

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These plans will not affect the businesses, with the units remaining open.

Although it was met with resistance by the town council, the plans were supported by some residents and businesses.

Takeaway Favourite Pizza and Chicken said it would transform the area behind its establishment which it said had problems with littering and staff often feeling unsafe due to it being enclosed with poor lighting.

Sami Mutlu, owner of Ade's Cafe, highlighted the struggling high street and said that homes would bring more footfall to the area.

Ibrahim Kaya, from Robi Investments, said at the time of the application: "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.

"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,"

The company received planning permission from Breckland for three homes on the site and following this successful bid to double that, the studio flats are set to go ahead with the conditions that the first floor windows use obscuring glazing and external materials are approved by the district council.

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