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‘The inspector clearly listened’ - Campaigners’ relief as bid to build at historic house dismissed

PUBLISHED: 18:27 21 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:27 21 August 2020

Residents objected to plans to build a new house within the Koolunga House's former historic grounds - with the developer's appeal being dismissed on August 18. Picture: Nick Butcher

Residents objected to plans to build a new house within the Koolunga House's former historic grounds - with the developer's appeal being dismissed on August 18. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

A developer’s appeal to build within the former grounds of an historic house has been thrown out by the government planning inspectorate.

A planning application was submitted for a new home in the grounds of the Georgian manor Koolunga House, but rejected last October. Picture: Google mapsA planning application was submitted for a new home in the grounds of the Georgian manor Koolunga House, but rejected last October. Picture: Google maps

Herringfleet Developments lodged an appeal after their plans to construct a single-story building in the former grounds of Koolunga House in Gorleston were rejected by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

But the government inspector has now upheld the council’s refusal - citing the need to conserve rare tree species and protect Koolunga as a “heritage asset”.

For Michael Boon, a local historian who has campaigned tirelessly to protect Koolunga alongside the property’s leaseholder Robert Smith, he “could not be more delighted at the news”.

He said: “I am so relieved to know that this application - which was so resolutely refused by the council in the first place - has been put to bed.

A planning application was submitted for a bungalow, garage and new access on land next to Koolunga House in Gorleston Picture: Robert SmithA planning application was submitted for a bungalow, garage and new access on land next to Koolunga House in Gorleston Picture: Robert Smith

“We can move on from this and work to reunite Koolunga’s former grounds with the house itself - to turn it into a truly public asset and green lung of Gorleston.

“I was pretty confident the appeal wouldn’t get anywhere, but you can never know for sure!”

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In the inspector’s report, the main issue was the detrimental effect the new build would have on the “character of the Gorleston Conservation Area” - as well as on green space, trees and biodiversity.

Youngsters from Ilketshall St Lawrence Primary School investigate the tree poisoning at Koolunga House, Gorleston, in 2018. Picture: Nick ButcherYoungsters from Ilketshall St Lawrence Primary School investigate the tree poisoning at Koolunga House, Gorleston, in 2018. Picture: Nick Butcher

It was also made clear the single dwelling would do little to satisfy the area’s housing need.

It said: “The significance of Koolunga House is in its distinctive 19th century architecture, and the siting of its wooded and landscaped surroundings that define this historic part of the Gorleston Conservation Area.

“The public benefits of the proposal, therefore, would not outweigh the considerable harm to the heritage assets identified here”.

Herringfleet Developments’ plans would have also involved demolishing part of the grounds’ wall to facilitate access to High Road.

And while recognising the wall was not specifically a “heritage asset”, the inspector stressed in his findings that any demolition of the structure would clearly detriment the “character and appearance” of the house itself.

On the topic of trees, the developer contended that 23 elms due to be removed for the house’s construction were of poor quality.

However, the inspector outlined that “elm trees are rare in the UK due to the Dutch elm disease”, and that given their rarity, it makes sense to “protect them as valuable elements in terms of biodiversity.”

Mr Boon, in response, said the inspector “had clearly listened” to objectors and “taken on board all the factors concerned residents raised about the plans”.


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