Forncett oil depot housing plans approved

A south Norfolk oil depot will be demolished and replaced with 17 new homes.

All works based at the Goff Petroleum site, in Station Road, Forncett St Peter, will be transferred to the company's headquarters near Wymondham as part of a major expansion plan.

The premises is currently used for the distribution of heating oil and contains large storage buildings and offices, as well as 14 storage tanks behind a high security fence.

Members of South Norfolk Council's planning committee approved the outline proposals last Wednesday despite the application going against policies restricting the use of employment land for residential development.

Officers had recommended the scheme be given the green light as it would lead to the decontamination of a hazardous site, improve its appearance and decrease traffic levels.

Bev Humphreys, chairman of Forncett Parish Council, said residents had reacted positively to the plans.

He said: 'We do not want what we perhaps have had in other parts of the village where houses are crammed in and it looks like an estate. This looks sympathetic to the area and people's reaction, if it was retained for an industrial use, would not be so good. There are plenty of industrial units in other locations for people to rent. If you are around for the 6am start up when the lorries begin you would understand why we feel that way.'

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Bob McClenning, who represents Forncett, added: 'The parish chairman certainly welcomes this strongly because it does solve a problem in the village. There are safety concerns about the lorry movements. I think this scheme would be developed sympathetically and benefit the community as a whole.'

However there were concerns about the omission of affordable housing from the scheme. Goff Petroleum has offered a sum of �40,000 to offset the lack of provision, although councillors said amount seemed too small.

Officers had accepted that the high costs of developing a contaminated brownfield site justified a reduction in developer contributions.

Trevor Dodkins, of planning consultant Carter Jonas who represented Goff Petroleum, said: 'Due to the exceptional costs of redeveloping the site relating to decontamination, which will cost about �400,000, and the costs of moving the tanks etc it was decided not to fund affordable housing or provide other contributions. But despite this Goff Petroleum recognises the importance of affordable housing to the district and have offered a sum of �40,000 towards affordable housing and two bus stops.'