Farmworkers' hostel overcomes opposition

PUBLISHED: 09:49 24 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:51 03 July 2010

Laura Bagshaw

FARMWORKERS in Ormesby are to benefit from improved housing after councillors approved plans for hostel accommodation for up to 150 workers, despite fierce opposition.

FARMWORKERS in Ormesby are to benefit from improved housing after councillors approved plans for hostel accommodation for up to 150 workers, despite fierce opposition.

Villagers claimed permanent housing at Mill Farm, North Road, would only add to noise and nuisance, and said approving the scheme would set a precedent for village fringe developments.

However, despite several outbursts from more than a dozen villagers who attended Tuesday's heated meeting of the development control committee, councillors approved the application.

Members said plans, which also include converting redundant buildings to kitchen, wash and recreation areas, represented an improvement to the site, which already housed temporary cabins for workers between March and December.

Applicant Richard Hirst said: “Until the public meeting in April I was unaware of the issues with the general public. Nothing had been brought to my attention.”

Mr Hirst said a noise complaint made last August was dealt with swiftly.

He moved to reassure residents the students were not “drunken idiots” but highly educated people who were simply trying to fund their university education.

Speaking on behalf of the objectors, Barry Barrett, of North Road told committee members the application would “ruin the community”. He said: “This proposal should not be allowed in the face of high numbers of objections.”

Mr Barrett explained he had seen groups of students obstruct the pathway of elderly villagers as they walked along the pavement. He also told the committee his wife would not sit in the garden during the summer months because of the noise.

Conservative councillor for Caister North Barry Cunniffe, who lives in Ormesby, said: “The majority of problems in this area are from local youths not from the students.”

Villagers said they were opposed to hostel accommodation and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England had argued it would have a detrimental effect on the village.

Committee chairman and Ormesby ward councillor Charles Reynolds said: “In all the years I have represented the area I have not received one single complaint about the farm. What this application is doing is improving the accommodation for those people. Mr Hirst should be applauded.”

Labour leader Mick Castle said: “It seems like a storm in a teacup to me. I know the Yarmouth Mercury well enough to know if there was a dispute about the farm it would have been in the paper, but it hasn't.

“It seems to me complaints have largely been taken on board in the amended plans and I think we should approve this application.”

It was approved by 10 votes to one.

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