Concerns raised about Gorleston riverside plans

A LACK of play space, parking and interrupted river views were among concerns raised at a public exhibition to air plans to add 100 homes to Gorleston’s industrial riverside.

Developers held a meeting on Thursday to gauge public reaction before submitting plans for the Halls Group site – part of an earlier controversial scheme for 319 Docklands-style homes.

The scheme being presented by businessman Terry Hall and Wellington Construction involves a change of use from employment to housing land – which some say could be detrimental to the future success of the port.

Margaret Ward, chairman of community group Start which represents the riverside triangle, said she understood close to 50 people attended the presentation, with 25 turning out to Start’s own meeting about the plans on Monday night.

She said there were concerns about the volume of extra traffic which could be generated by another 100 homes, pressure on local schools and services and also about a lack of play space.

But overall people bemoaned the loss of industrial land which no amount of tweaks or adjustments to the plans themselves would make up for, she said – delivering a strong “jobs not homes” message.

Mrs Ward said: “There were four project leaders who were there to take people through the plans. They were very polite and helpful and prepared to have long discussions with people. It was a good display and they listened to what people had to say rather than telling them what to think.

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“Of the people who came to our meeting on Monday night most of them had been to the exhibition and they came with opinions.

“At our meeting everyone was against the plans and absolutely against any change of use.”

However Paul Pitcher, director of Wellington Construction, said he was encouraged by the mainly positive response from those who turned out and completed a tick-box questionnaire last week.

Although a couple of people were “quite vociferous” most were broadly in favour of the scheme which maintained some employment land, with offices and Halls DIY.

People in Blackwall Reach raised concerns about views and properties facing their homes which were being addressed, Mr Pitcher said, adding: “The feedback was very useful and there were valid points which we are taking in. There were also concerns about open space which we had not included which we will revise. A lot of people were saying it was good for Gorleston and good for the high street.

“I am not suggesting it is going to be easy by any stretch but we were pleasantly surprised.”

The company has yet to submit a formal planning application but hopes to do so by the end of August.