Village homes 'not suitable'

By Cat Bartman

19 September 2005 09:35

Funding has been withdrawn from an affordable housing scheme in a South Norfolk village after councillors agreed it was not a suitable location.

It follows a recent unsuccessful planning appeal by gypsy families in Denton, near Bungay, who wanted to stay at an unofficial site they had settled on.

The planning inspector said one of the reasons for the decision was the site's unsuitability in term of accessibility to services and facilities.

Planning officers told South Norfolk Council's Cabinet that this had raised a number of issues that make it difficult for the council to continue to support a scheme to provide eight affordable houses in the village in partnership with Flagship Housing Group.

They said that the funding earmarked for the scheme should be used to provide affordable homes elsewhere.

A report to Cabinet said: "We now have guidance that we believe supports the view that Denton is not an appropriate location to support further housing development.

"We should have a consistent approach to site location with regard to gypsies and local needs housing because of its remoteness from services under policy criteria.

"As Denton is not considered an appropriate location for sites for gypsies, it is not appropriate for local needs housing."

Cabinet members agree that steps should be taken to seek approval from Norfolk County Council to transfer £125,000 of second homes money earmarked for the Denton scheme to one in Bressingham, near Diss.

A survey has established housing need there and a site has been found which planning officers would recommend approval for development.

It was also agreed that the £60,000 for the Denton scheme should be used elsewhere.

Denton Parish Council asked that some of the funding be carried forward so a way can be found to deliver a scheme in the village, and that the councils work together to try and make the village more sustainable, for example by creating a community shop and doctors' surgery.

But officers said that by making Denton more sustainable the council would in future want to be able to consider sites in the village - and in others with similar levels of services - as potential gypsy sites.

Local councillor Murray Gray put forward another recommendation, asking that once policies have been updated under the Local Development Framework process, Denton's position is reviewed as a matter of urgency and, if appropriate, its needs be given the highest priority for future funding for affordable housing.

This was also agreed by members.

It again and again surprises me that local governments will decide that a certain location is not suitable for a Gypsy family to live because of the lack of services and amenities or the distance from them despite the fact that the people would be quite happy living there.
It has also occurred previously that a Gypsy family would be turned down on those grounds, the land then went to developers and viola houses were built there and there was no problem as regards to being too far away from services and amenities.