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