Dismay at appeal ruling on homes bid for site of former registry office
- Credit: Daniel Hickey
A decision to allow the construction of 34 new homes on the site of a former registry office has been met with disappointment.
The Planning Inspectorate has overturned Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s refusal of the scheme to build six houses and 28 flats on the ruins of the Ferryside building, the borough’s former registry office, off High Road in Gorleston.
Carl Smith, borough council leader, said: "I'm disappointed with the appeal decision and I do understand the residents are not very happy "
A petition has been set up by neighbours asking the council to take enforcement action over "the awful state of the site".
In April 2019, demolition teams removed the historic but unlisted building's roof.
Since then, it has been a gaping ruin, fenced off and overgrown.
So far, the petition has gathered 70 signatures.
Norwich-based developer Dawson Brown Ltd first submitted plans for the land in 2016.
Almost three years later, in March 2019, the borough council rejected the application over concerns about the proposed development’s “poor design”, as well as the loss of trees and the lack of open space or a children’s play area.
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Lisa Hannant, who lives opposite the site, said: “This used to be the hub of the community, where you registered births, marriages and deaths. It had a beautiful garden. It’s a shame they didn’t list the building.
“I can’t see how you can get 28 flats and six houses in there. And this is a busy road, with the fire station, the coastguard and buses, and they want to make the entrance onto this road, which is already narrow and full of potholes. It’s just ridiculous.”
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Lynn May, another neighbour, said: “I know things have got to be developed, things have got to be done, but it just comes across as being dangerous.
“I can see an accident waiting to happen.”
Access to the development would be off High Road.
In a decision made earlier this month, the planning inspector said the development would “not be harmful to the character or appearance of the area”.
He also said: “The provision of some communal areas within the site, albeit limited in size, and the availability of public open space taken together would ensure that future occupiers would not have unacceptable living conditions.”
The Ferryside was originally built as a family home in 1880 by Edward Combe, honorary colonel of a Norfolk Regiment volunteer battalion.
It later became the borough’s register office, fulfilling the role for 50 years, and during that time most of the families around Great Yarmouth and Gorleston would have had reason to visit the building.
Over six decades it hosted an estimated 20,000 weddings.
When the service moved to Great Yarmouth library in 2011, the building was sold by the county council’s property wing.
In August 2013, planning permission was granted for a change of use to residential.
In April 2020, the developers submitted a “unilateral obligation” which would provide for three affordable rented dwellings to be provided on site.
It would also provide for contributions to habitat mitigation, off-site open space, play equipment and maintenance, as well as the provision of an open space scheme, and a library and monitoring contribution.
The government requires that 302 houses be built every year in the borough.
From 2016 to 2019, the council fell short, building only 77pc of the target amount.
In February 2020, new figures showed that while housing delivery had improved, it remained lower than the threshold of 95pc of its target.
In 2019/20, 382 houses were built.