What do Caister residents think of 665 home estate heading their way
- Credit: James Weeds
Residents of a large coastal village have expressed their concerns after a bid for 665 new homes on the edge of their community was approved.
On Wednesday, the controversial application for a new housing estate called Magnolia Gardens to be built on land at West Caister was approved by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
Some 45 concerned residents from nearby Caister attended the planning committee meeting, while hundreds more watched live on YouTube.
On Thursday, we visited Caister to ask residents their thoughts on the decision.
Michael Bruckner, 72, has lived in Caister for five years. He said he had followed similar developments in his previous hometowns and worries whether promises by planners will be followed through.
"I'm obviously against it," Mr Bruckner said.
"More than anything, I worry about the lack of infrastructure. Our sewage systems are already overloaded in the summer due to holidaymakers.
"The roads will be worse than they are now as well.
"I understand it's important for more homes to be built but the infrastructure needs to be there. Are we going to have more doctors, schools and shops?
"Planners are experts at persuading, but it's just the practicalities I worry about."
Resident Harry Barron, 58, believes infrastructure should be built before the homes.
"I understand a lot of people aren't happy about the decision," he said.
"It's okay if they build but we need the infrastructure to go with it. They're happy to build houses but not provide other things which make places liveable.
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"It seems the developers made plans without thinking about the residents. They just build and don't think.
"Caister's a nice village with good facilities. It's very good for people to live in - especially the elderly. How can planners guarantee it will remain this way?
"I heard there are plans for a Caister to Norwich bus route with the new build. But you might need a route just to get from the new housing estate to the rest of the village."
Sandria Wright, 75, said she was unhappy about the decision.
"I don't think the village can stand it," she said. "I don't know why they want to build so many.
"I can see the need for new housing - and if youngsters can buy affordable housing then fair enough. But will it work out like that?
"One thing's for sure, there won't be a bypass anymore. We'll probably get bumper-to-bumper traffic through the village. I'm not happy about it."
24-year-old Oli McHugh said building facilities are just as important as housing.
He said: "These places are meant to contribute. Not just provide a space for people to sleep at night. They will have to build more facilities first.
"It's a significant increase in housing and it will be interesting to see what happens, but people need more than just a house."
Jane Powley, 68, said she fears what will happen to the surrounding wildlife with the new builds.
She said: "We do need new homes. But they tend to destroy everything around them.
"We need to maintain as many wild areas as we can - we're not the only ones who live here."
Kim Jenkins, 65, said Caister is not the "quiet little village" it once was.
"I don’t think we need any more houses in Caister," she said. "There are already issues with facilities. It doesn't seem to be a quiet little village anymore.
"I think people moved here as it was quiet. I doubt it will be for much longer. It's a shame things get spoilt with more and more buildings."
Caister Parish Council vice-chairman Kevin Wood said he was feeling "much disappointment" over the decision.
"I feel we weren't listened to at all," Mr Wood said.
"At the meeting, we were really focusing on the safety issues which could arise from these new houses - what with more cars on the roads and in the village itself - but that fell on deaf ears.
"Not only could this affect people's safety, but there will also be a negative impact on environmental issues.
"We are disappointed, but we are Caister, we'll come back and we will remember."
It is said the homes, 20pc of which will be affordable, will pump £21m a year into the local economy and help the borough council meet its housing targets.
Persimmon say they have engaged with local stakeholders.
Caister's past and present
The village of Caister dates back almost 2,000 years when it was used as a Roman fort. Parts of the fort, which was occupied until around 390AD and excavated in the 1950s, are still on display by Norwich Road.
Since 1791, the village has had its own lifeboat service. Remembered for the bravery of many of their lifeboat crew following a lifeboat disaster in 1901, the village has adopted the slogan "Caister men never turn back".
Until 1927, Caister's official name was Caister-next-Yarmouth, but it was changed to Caister-on-Sea.
According to the Parish Council website, the village currently has around 9,000 residents.
The village has four schools - Caister Infant, Caister Junior, Caister Academy and John Grant School. It also has one doctor's surgery and one dentist's surgery.
Caister has two main supermarkets, Lidl and Tesco.
The village is currently bypassed by the A149 dual carriageway.
The average price for a house in Caister is currently around £230,000 according to property website Rightmove.