Housing plan for Gorleston’s riverside

A NEW bid to add 100 homes to Gorleston’s industrial riverside has been launched, with fresh plans going on show to the public later this month.

Developers are hoping the �110m scheme will be less controversial than an earlier plan for 319 homes in Dockland-style apartments that was vociferously opposed.

But just how much of a battle they face will become clear on June 23 when people can see the plans, elevational drawings and layouts at a consultation meeting held at the Halls Group Premises, the site of the proposed development.

Businessman Terry Hall is behind the bid on his five acre site sandwiched between the high street and river, along with partner Wellington Construction which has a proven track record in the borough.

His agent Ian Sinclair said the site was ripe for redevelopment, given the poor access for lorries visiting the various companies operating from the site who would all be relocated under the plans.

The new homes, a mix of one, two and three bedroom flats and town houses with a sprinkling of four bedroom homes, would be broken up with a range of elevations no higher than three storeys protecting river views from Blackwall Reach.

Mr Sinclair said he was keen to garner the views of local people on the early proposals that had been 18 months in the making and aimed “to do a lot for the town and especially Gorleston.”

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The complex, he added, was similar in design to the three storey homes built on a flood plain in Cobholm, close to Tesco, but would be less uniform with more of a mix of styles.

Now that the dust has settled on the earlier scheme Mr Sinclair said it was time to look again at the best use for the site, enabling Halls to move closer to their competitors on the Harfreys/Gapton Hall industrial estates.

Tom Harrison of community group Start, which represents the riverside triangle, said he was concerned about valuable industrial land that would be impossible to reclaim if the port took off.

Margaret Ward, chairman of Start, said she was also opposed to the principle of building homes on industrial land which was at a premium in the borough.

“It would be very difficult to agree it because the land is vital for future developments at the port and its associated businesses.

“Doing anything that restricts employment opportunities across the borough would be to do a disservice to the community,” she said.

She also questioned the logic of putting homes in a busy industrial zone where activity was revving up rather than dropping back.

The three apartment blocks going up at the end of Morrisons were proof if any were needed, she added, of the negative impact of incongruous and over-sized buildings on the relatively low-rise area.

Ian Pitcher, director of Wellington Construction, said: “The one thing that we are about as a company is transparency.

“We are not trying to slip something through, its a case of getting everyone on board – that’s just the way we go about things.”

He said Halls intended to retain a presence on the site and that the commercial element would be the highest and act as a buffer to the river.

Wellington Construction is known for its heritage developments including Yarmouth Art College, Boultons in North Quay, Shipleys vets at Haven Bridge.

It is currently also working on the Cap and Gown site in Gorleston and at Beacon Park.

The so-called Docklands scheme rumbled through the planning machine for several years.

After a few trims and down-scalings, it was eventually passed by committee members against the advice of planning officers.

However, it was called in by the Secretary of State who flagged up concerns about density and the impact on the port.

But the scheme was withdrawn before the public inquiry took place, to the relief of local campaigners.

The new plan would also require a change of use to switch the designation from employment land to residential in the local plan.

n The public consultation is on Thursday June 23 at the Halls Group premises in Riverside Road, Gorleston from 2pm to 7pm, when the whole team will be on hand to answer questions.