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Controversial apartment plans scaled back in bid to win over objectors

PUBLISHED: 09:43 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:07 10 May 2019

New apartments that would overlook Diss Mere would be built at the top of land next to the Mere wildlife garden. Picture: Simon Parkin

New apartments that would overlook Diss Mere would be built at the top of land next to the Mere wildlife garden. Picture: Simon Parkin

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Developers behind controversial plans to build modern flats overlooking Diss Mere have scaled back the scheme in a bid to win over opponents.

Revised designs for the housing development next to Diss Mere that show its reduced scale from those previous proposed. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk CouncilRevised designs for the housing development next to Diss Mere that show its reduced scale from those previous proposed. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

Plans to build two four-bedroom apartments and a three-bedroom apartment on land next to the wildlife garden and floating boardwalk were submitted to South Norfolk Council in December.

The proposals would see an existing garage and two store buildings behind the Happy Palace Chinese restaurant on St Nicholas Street demolished to make way for the development.

Designs submitted as part of the ambitious planning application showed modern looking buildings finished largely in glass and metal, with balconies offering occupants a bird's eye view over the Mere.

The original designs for the housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk CouncilThe original designs for the housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

The plans have been met with strong opposition, with objectors describing them as looking like a "monolithic lump". During discussions, one town council described the design as like a "Swiss family Robinson-style ski lodge, surrounded by Diss".

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Developers have now submitted revised plans, significantly reducing the size of the proposed buildings in a bid to address concerns about its scale and impact on the neighbouring Mere-side community wildlife garden and boardwalk.

New apartments that would overlook Diss Mere would be built at the top of land next to the Mere wildlife garden and floating boardwalk. Picture: Simon ParkinNew apartments that would overlook Diss Mere would be built at the top of land next to the Mere wildlife garden and floating boardwalk. Picture: Simon Parkin

But Diss Heritage Triangle Trust, which was set up in 2016 to oversee a £3m regeneration project that included the boardwalk and community garden, has still voiced opposition to the plans despite the changes.

Trustee David Down said: "The new application reduces the overall footprint very slightly by moving the balconies back into the building, and the overall height is very slightly reduced. However the width of the building is unaltered, and the impression viewed from the wildlife garden is substantially unchanged. It will still tower over the garden, reducing natural light onto the garden."

David Case, of the Diss Heritage Partnership, said: "The proposed amendments to the original plan do not address the problem of the scale of the development in the context of the surrounding built environment, nor the unacceptable overshadowing of the communal garden by the new build walls.

Artist impression of the flats planned next to Diss Mere submitted with the original planning appplication. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk CouncilArtist impression of the flats planned next to Diss Mere submitted with the original planning appplication. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

"The site needs sympathetic and proportionate development. This proposal runs contrary to everything we were trying to achieve."

Diss Town Council has recommended that district planners refuse the development, arguing the scale of the proposed buildings is too large and the modern design not in keeping with the historic conservation area.

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