Fresh talks on plans to develop bungalows on empty town centre land
PUBLISHED: 07:30 06 January 2019
Fresh proposals to develop an “important local open space” into retirement bungalows will be discussed at a public meeting.
Essex housebuilder Scott Residential wants to build 24 retirement bungalows on currently private and undeveloped land in Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, between Shelfanger Road and Mount Street in Diss.
In 2017 a housing and economic land availability assessment (HELAA) concluded the site was unsuitable for the project, but a recent consultation made on behalf of the housebuilder said proposals have “fundamentally changed” after talks with the town council and Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.
The consultation, by Strutt and Parker, said the size of the developable area had been ‘promoted’ and the number of buildings reduced. The site may now be included in the emerging Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan, as part of efforts to develop it for public use.
There is currently no public access, but the site is listed in the South Norfolk Local Plan as an important local open space, with a historic association with 60 Mount Street. Some Diss residents have taken to social media to criticise the proposals, citing fears of over-development and crowding of services.
A new proposed site layout was presented at a meeting in December with representatives from the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and Diss Town Council. The report said the scheme was well received and the next step will be to present it formally to the town council at its next meeting, at Diss Corn Hall, on Wednesday, January 9, at 7.15pm.
The previous assessment had raised concerns that the development would reduce public space in the town, but Strutt and Parker said the “significant public benefits” would outweigh drawbacks, providing “much needed accommodation for the ageing population”.
As there appear to be no legal issues, the consultation said the site is immediately available for work to start, adding that the site could be ready for use within two years of planning permission being granted.
Early 2019 will see Scott Residential seek advice from the district and town councils, as well as other stakeholders before it submits a detailed application.
The consultation conclusion statement said the company feels it will “deliver tangible community benefits early in the plan period.”