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Views split on flats scheme

PUBLISHED: 16:59 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 07:25 01 August 2010

THE jury is still out on controversial plans to build flats in Beccles for people recovering from mental health problems.

An amended schemes has been submitted for planning permission - but with some nearby residents still concerned, Beccles Town Council has extended the objection period for the proposed development in Noel's Walk and Pig Lane from May 23 to June 3 to give neighbours more time to send their views to Waveney District Council.

THE jury is still out on controversial plans to build flats in Beccles for people recovering from mental health problems.

An amended schemes has been submitted for planning permission - but with some nearby residents still concerned, Beccles Town Council has extended the objection period for the proposed development in Noel's Walk and Pig Lane from May 23 to June 3 to give neighbours more time to send their views to Waveney District Council.

The plans, submitted by the Suffolk Heritage Housing Association, include a complex of eight flats with a manager's office, communal living space and public open space.

In January a similar plan was rejected as more than 200 people living in the surrounding area signed a petition objecting to the flats, mostly on the grounds that the site was too small and that the flats would overlook local houses.

However the new plans, which would see the flats built on the existing play area in Pig Lane and an “improved” public open space created on the corner of Noel's Walk and Pig Lane, where there are now derelict garages, have divided the opinion of the residents.

Ian West, who represents residents in the Denmark Road area of Beccles and organised the original petition, said: “The residents are divided on this issue so I'm not organising a petition because and I feel my duty is to be impartial.

“The original plans meant that people living around the site would have been overlooked and lost their parking spaces, but this is not so much the case now. All of the objections were of a technical and topographical nature, and there are some topographical issues still, but now the objections are about whether the site should be used for mental health patients.”

Many of the residents' concerns this time around centre on the proposed public space which they think could attract anti-social behaviour, as the current play area on Pig Lane has attracted troublemakers in the past.

Judy Suter, who lives in Pig Lane, wrote in a recent letter that the plans are “a recipe for disaster:” “We have had a problem locally with young people using this as a meeting place, with some anti-social behaviour occurring and the police currently patrol the area on a regular basis.

“The development includes a plan to revamp the park and put four foot high railings around it and a lockable gate. But would this prevent anyone climbing over it? And would the combination of a park and this unit produce an explosive situation?”

However Arthur Hyde, of Denmark Road, attended a site meeting yesterday morning and was impressed by what he was told.

He said: “The playground is used at the moment by the slightly more rowdy side of the community as it is easy for them to get to and do undesirable things. But the new space is at the front of the street- they can't hide from anyone.

“I think people are worried that there are going to be all sorts of peculiar mental cases, but it's not like that. It's people who are recovering from things like accidents. These people have got to live somewhere and be rehabilitated.”

Meanwhile new Beccles Mayor David Smith also said he thought the new plans represented an improvement from those in January: “In my opinion it is now a more acceptable plan. My own view is that a lot of residents are much happier with these plans, but I would like to hear some objectors and they may bring up some points we haven't thought of.”

Anyone wishing to object can write to Mr Andrew Norton Planning Dept, Town Hall, High St, Lowestoft Nr32 1HS Quoting Reference DC/08/0493/FUL or email andrew.norton@waveney.gov.uk.

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