Village fears over buffer zone effect

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THE rejection of plans for new homes in a housing-starved village has sparked fears that is being ‘abandoned’.

On Monday, Breckland Council members turned down plans for a 35-home development in Weeting due to concerns about the effects on the stone curlew buffer zone.

The 1,500m zone surrounds Weeting and Robert Childerhouse, applicant for Childerhouse Lodge Farms, said it had made development in the village almost impossible.

“I think the whole buffer zone concept has got out of hand. There are too many conflicting opinions on the issue and the people making planning decisions aren’t experts and are struggling to see the woods for the trees,” he said.

The plans were thrown out despite widespread support. Weeting Parish Council, Natural England and ‘the majority of local people’ backed the proposals, according to Mr Childerhouse.

He said that objections raised by the RSPB – ‘a single-focus lobby group’ – had swayed councillors.

With 209 people on the village’s housing waiting list, there was also strong interest in the development’s 14 affordable housing units.

Mr Childerhouse, who is also a Breckland councillor, said residents had been left with no option but to leave Weeting.

“I get letters and people contacting me regularly saying they can’t get a house in Weeting and they have had to move elsewhere. Then they want to come back, and again, they can’t.”

He added that Weeting Primary School was not getting as many pupils as it wanted due to the limits placed on young families living in the area.

The scheme also involved the allocation of an area of public land intended for use as allotments. Weeting Parish Council has been looking for suitable plots for more than a decade, according to Mr Childerhouse.

An appeal will now be lodged against the decision.