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Controversial flats to go ahead

PUBLISHED: 17:54 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 07:28 01 August 2010

A PLAN to build flats for people recovering from mental health problems in Beccles has been given the green light by planners, despite fierce opposition from residents.

A PLAN to build flats for people recovering from mental health problems in Beccles has been given the green light by planners, despite fierce opposition from residents.

And it immediately brought a claim that the views of residents and the town council had been ignored by Waveney.

It is the third time Suffolk Heritage Housing Association has put forward a similar scheme for eight flats at the corner of Noel's Walk and Pig Lane. The first was withdrawn after town council objections in April last year and a second set of plans were turned down by Waveney planners in January.

Suffolk Heritage then went back to the drawing board and decided to build the flats on the south corner of the site instead of replacing the derelict garages opposite.

The rest of the plot will be transformed into a public open space, replacing a run-down children's playground which has been the focus of anti-social behaviour problems for several years - a proposal which was backed by Waveney's development control committee on Wednesday night.

Waveney's planning manager Tom Wooley said that the new scheme, with open space and lay-bys for visitor parking, will be an attribute to the area. He said: “The proposal was deemed sufficiently worthwhile that effort was made to try and achieve it.

“Comprehensive redevelopment of this area will be to everyone's benefit. The open space would replace very unsightly and increasingly derelict garages.”

Ian West, residents' co-ordinator for the project, said that there is a deadlock among those living nearby who are for and against the project - a change of scene from last year, when nearly 220 locals signed a petition against the plans.

He said: “Opponents of the scheme feel that a two-storey development is too big. There are fears that traffic movements will increase and residents' parking will be compromised.

“On the other hand, those in favour say that supported housing and a play area are vital social assets. The flats are tasteful in appearance and will have virtually no over-shadowing.”

Beccles Town Council opposed to the plans in June, saying that the extra housing would put pressure on drainage and that the public open space would be a magnet for young troublemakers.

Mayor David Smith said yesterday: “I feel that with this decision being made, it is obvious that the residents' feelings were not taken into account and the town council was over-ruled.”

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