Banham fury at Breckland planners

03 May 2007

BRECKLAND Council has been accused by Banham villagers of not paying enough attention to local views on planning issues.

The claim has been made by members of the Heath Road residents' association who are opposing plans to site a mobile phone mast close to their homes and a school for autistic children.

They are also unhappy at proposals to demolish a bungalow in Heath Road and replace it with a six bedroom house, and a retrospective application to regularise unauthorised development at an adjoining industrial estate.

Spokesman Matthew Le Grys said: “Basically we got together and formed a residents' association to oppose a motorcycle track. Breckland wasn't listening to us on that issue but we managed to get it overturned. Chimneys have been put up without consent at the industrial estate and the house is going to be completely out of character.

“I have young children and we will be only 100m away from the mast. It looks like Breckland is going to recommend approval as they can't take health issues into account.”

Neighbour Pam Hammond said: “The chimneys are very ugly but the council seems to feel that's okay. Our house is right next to the mast.”

Banham district councillor Stephen Askew said he was aware of the residents' concerns and would continue to lobby for an alternative location for the mast proposed by applicant T-Mobile.

He added: “There have been a number of planning applications in Heath Road in recent years that could be regarded as surprising, but planning law is very complex and very often the decisions are influenced by government and European guidelines.”

Breckland Council spokesman Mandy Montagu said the authority had “bent over backwards” to win an appeal, on behalf of villagers, to prevent the motorcycle track operating. Officers had also attended parish council meetings to discuss local concerns.

“We do try to take residents' views into account. Sometimes when we look at all the evidence, what we feel is different from what they feel, but for about 80pc of the time we do tend to agree with residents.”

The bungalow application has been deferred pending additional information. The mast and factory applications are due to be determined on May 21.

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