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Flats proposal causes concern

PUBLISHED: 11:27 09 June 2008 | UPDATED: 07:27 01 August 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for sheltered flats for people recovering from mental health problems should be turned down, Beccles councillors said this week.

They heard concerns from local people that the area would be overdeveloped, that the scheme would put pressure on drainage, and that the public open space included in the proposal could be a magnet for troublemakers.

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for sheltered flats for people recovering from mental health problems should be turned down, Beccles councillors said this week.

They heard concerns from local people that the area would be overdeveloped, that the scheme would put pressure on drainage, and that the public open space included in the proposal could be a magnet for troublemakers.

It is the third time Suffolk Heritage Housing Association has put forward a similar scheme for 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 The first was withdrawn after town council objections in April last year, and a second set of plans were turned down by Waveney planners in January. The redrawn plans include eight flats, communal areas and manager's accommodation.

The town council's meeting this week, was packed with concerned residents. Judy Suter said: “This is essentially the same application that has already been rejected turned around. Eighty per cent of neighbours are still against the development. It is out of character with the existing properties. The number of eight or nine properties will put pressure on drainage.

“Time and time again residents expressed concern about traffic and parking.”

Ian West, residents' co-ordinator for the project, said it would provide much-needed sheltered accommodation and clear up an area that had become an eyesore. But he said: “Objectors find it inappropriate to site a mental health facility in a residential area near a play park. They worry about unhealthy interaction between inmates and the local youths.

“The community mental health team state categorically that no-one possibly of risk to the public will be placed there. There will be 24-hour on site or on-call staff. There have been no problems at the Lowestoft site, despite rumours which actually relate to the young offenders' place a few doors away.”

Town councillors were unhappy with the plans, which they also rejected the previous time round. They said it was overdevelopment and expressed concern about drainage and parking. Brian Woodruff said: “This type of development behind all these people's houses is not good enough there.”

Jill Featherstone said: “If you are recovering from health issues the last thing they want is kiddies in the playground screaming outside the door. The next thing you will see is a sign saying No Ball Games and then it will be incorporated into the development.

“I am worried about the lack of parking.”

Stephanie Bubb said: “I think it is also overdevelopment.”

Later Mrs Suter said the next step is to get the plans rejected by Waveney planners and she encouraged people to attend its meeting in support of the campaign. She is also seeking an open meeting with Waveney at Beccles Public Hall to enable many more people to attend.

“The results of the recent opinion poll myself and neighbours carried out locally were 81pc against the plans still. 4pc in favour and 15pc neutral. If it had swung the other way I would have conceded to the majority,” she said.

“We are representing many families and also elderly people in an already overdeveloped area. If the plans were for a small development of bungalows for the elderly, that would be reasonable, but many homes will be overlooked by this huge planned building in this small unadopted access road.”

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