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Decision deferred on controversial Diss Mere apartment plans

PUBLISHED: 15:35 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:35 25 June 2019

Visualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

Visualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

The decision on whether to give the go-ahead to controversial plans to build modern flats overlooking Diss Mere, recommended for approval despite objections from heritage watchdogs, has been deferred.

Visualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk CouncilVisualisation of proposed housing development next to Diss Mere. Picture: KD Architects/South Norfolk Council

Developers want to demolish an existing garage and two store buildings behind the Happy Palace Chinese restaurant on St Nicholas Street to build three apartments.

The two four-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom apartment would be built at the top of a plot of land next to Diss Town Council offices that slopes down to the Mere.

The plans have met with strong opposition including from the Diss Heritage Triangle Trust, Diss Heritage Partnership and Diss Town Council who raised 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 sloping land next to the Mere wildlife garden. Picture: Simon ParkinNew apartments that would overlook Diss Mere would be built at the top of sloping land next to the Mere wildlife garden. Picture: Simon Parkin

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The developers had submitted revised plans significantly reducing the initial size of the proposed buildings in a bid to address concerns.

The plans were discussed at a meeting of South Norfolk Council's development management committee on Tuesday, June 25 where committee members decided to defer a decision in order to carry out a site visit.

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

Planning officers had recommended approval and said the impact on the wildlife garden was not enough to justify the scheme being refused and that it was "not inappropriate" for it to overlook a public space.

They added: "In terms of the impact on outlook from the wildlife garden, including the viewing platforms, it is not felt that the scale of the development, when also noting the retention of a degree of space from the site boundary and the ability to retain and enhance vegetation on the boundary, is such that it would be so overly dominant so as to justify refusal."

In its objection Diss Heritage Triangle Trust states: "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 as viewed from the wildlife garden is substantially unchanged."

Diss Town Council said it would welcome the opportunity to discuss a "much more modest development" built in a style more compatible to the historic nature of buildings in the area and that did not overlook and overshadow the wildlife garden.

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