DELIGHTED LOCAL RESIDENTS COME TOGETHER TO DEFEAT CONTROVERSIAL PLANNING APPLICATION
Passionate residents of Farmland Road and Costessey pooled together their resources to work with the Town and District Councils, Friends of the Tud Valley group and the Costessey Society, presenting a case to the Planning Inspector who dismissed the appeals for development of 83 dwellings and recreational walks in Costessey’s sensitive river valley.
A huge groundswell of opinion against the applications emerged with hundreds of objections to the proposals and residents attending public meetings. Supported by these objections Farmland Road Action Group was formed to fight to protect the treasured river valley, with its sensitive landscape and rural character, and to preserve the strategic gap between Old and New Costessey.
Originally SNC officers recommended approval but the South Norfolk Council Planning Committee unanimously voted to reject the applications, persuaded by the efforts of FRAG, the Friends of the Tud Valley and the Town Council of the detriment the applications would cause to the precious river valley.
The various groups within Costessey have been working hard since 2015 to achieve this result. FRAG raised well over £9,000 for independent experts to produce detailed brochures and technical evidence in defence of the sensitive River Tud valley in Costessey, while Costessey Town Council paid £4,820 for expert witnesses to appear at the two-day official hearing at Long Stratton.
Their professional work presented the alternative and logical view that the site was inappropriate, causing major harm to the landscape and environment. FRAG, Friends of the Tud Valley, Costessey Town Council, South Norfolk Council and the Costessey Society highlighted the negative impact on the river valley and the damage development would cause to the River Tud which is an “Ark site” for protected species.
The Inspector was not persuaded that the proposed new planting would mitigate the effects on the river valley landscape stating: The scheme would result in a significant adverse landscape impact on both the characteristics of the sensitive valley fringe farmland and the rural river valley due to the loss of the open pastoral/arable lower valley sides of the River Tud and through incremental intrusion into, and the perceptible narrowing of, a valuable green gap at the edge of the wider conurbation and Costessey. In many viewpoints the visual impact would be mitigated by the proposed landscaping, but the development would permanently and harmfully affect two key viewpoints (viewpoint 7/7a and 8) which provide a rare opportunity within the urban fabric of New Costessey to appreciate the rolling topography and landscape character of the adjacent Tud valley and valley fringes. I attach substantial weight to the environmental harm identified.
The Inspector was also persuaded that the site was not a sustainable place for residents under the Equality Act, because the gradient of Farmland Road meant that the site was not accessible, and would disadvantage those who were not mobile and who would require the use of vehicles to access local services. A site visit with a wheelchair showed how difficult it would be to access the local shops and services from the proposed development.
This is an incredibly important result for Costessey as a community, for all Costessey’s residents, and the rare river valley landscape.
This result dismissing the appeals has set a precedent, providing arguments to protect the R Tud Valley against other possible future applications.
Many thanks to all those who have given a considerable amount of time & financial support to help achieve this successful outcome.