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Farmworkers may get better housing

PUBLISHED: 14:42 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:46 03 July 2010

plans to make permanent a hostel providing accommodation for up to 150 overseas farmworkers in Ormesby are being earmarked for approval despite local concerns about noise and nuisance.

plans to make permanent a hostel providing accommodation for up to 150 overseas farmworkers in Ormesby are being earmarked for approval despite local concerns about noise and nuisance.

The application, which proposes better housing for student workers in fewer cabins and converting redundant buildings to kitchen, wash and recreation areas, has also drawn objections from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Currently, the students, mainly from central and Eastern Europe, are housed in temporary units which have to be installed and taken away each year.

Letters of objection from residents say they are worried about setting a building precedent on the fringes of their village and feeling intimidated by groups of men walking around.

There has also been some criticism of the public consult-ation, with some near neighbours saying they should have been told about the application.

But a report to members of the development control committee, which meets on Tuesday, recaps on the year-long debate and recommends approval for 10 years, subject to tying up loose ends such as the siting of the units, screening and noise control.

It welcomes the cut in number of mobile accommodation units from 26 to 18, the end of the 100 lorry movements needed to install and remove them and the controls regarding the operation of the site that permanence would bring.

Richard Hirst, whose farm in North Road, Ormesby, is at the centre of the controversy, robustly defended the plan at a public meeting organised by the parish council in March last year. He said that East Coast Growers - a specialist salad growing and packing operation - relied on the foreign agriculture students to do the work that local people would not do and that they deserved better facilities.

The application does not involve any rise in numbers or extension to the season. The number of workers on site varies from 10 at the beginning of the season to 130 at its peak when between 10 and 16 minibuses arrive and depart in the morning and evening, but not through the village. However, opponents say the largely student population inevitably wants to have fun and that it spills noisily over into village life.

Paul Woolnough, of CPRE Norfolk, has written to Yarmouth planners tagging it “a major development” that will have a detrimental effect on the village.

A noise assessment required by planners concludes that the switch from temporary to perm-anent accommodation is unlikely to effect noise disturbance but recommends a resident warden to control noise during free time. The site is generally unoccupied from 7am to 7pm.

The issue will be discussed on Tuesday at Yarmouth Town Hall.


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