Council has 'no authority' to decide retirement home plans
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A planning application for 73 retirement homes in a Norfolk market town will be heard this week - but councillors no longer have the authority to make a decision.
A planning application to develop 58 retirement apartments and 15 cottages in Diss will be heard by South Norfolk Council's (SNC) planning committee on Wednesday, September 1.
An application for the site south of the Thatchers Needle pub was submitted in February by Churchill Retirement Living. SNC did not examine the proposals, forcing the developers to appeal to the planning inspector.
A report to councillors said: "Now that the appeal has been lodged the council no longer has authority to determine the application, but the committee’s advice is sought as to how it would have determined the application if it has been required to do so.
"The advice given will form the basis of the council’s case in relation to the appeal, which is being dealt with by way of a public inquiry."
A spokesman for SNC said the council was unable to determine the initial application because it needed key information from the applicant before making a final recommendation.
They insisted the delay was unrelated to a previous backlog of over 200 planning applications across SNC and joint council, Broadland.
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Revealed in a July Broadland council meeting, the registration backlog has now been "caught up with," the spokesperson said.
The application is recommended for refusal by SNC officers and has seen objections from Diss Town Council, which argue it fails to make the best use of the land.
A Churchill spokesman said the location is perfect for much-needed retirement homes and will help improve the health and wellbeing of people living there while creating jobs, high street spend and boosting the housing market.
“Unfortunately our initial planning application has been in the planning system for several months and given the time taken to appeal schemes it was commercially necessary for us to lodge an appeal for non-determination on this first application," he said.
"That said, we have also submitted a second application and remain in positive dialogue with the local planning authority.
"We hope to reach a positive conclusion on the second application and avoid the need for an appeal that would incur further delay and costs for all parties.”