Villagers fighting garage pharmacy

HOPTON residents say their quiet village life would be destroyed if a pharmacy business opens in their neighbour’s garage.

Families living in Imperial Mews cul-de-sac are fighting against plans for the pharmacy in a double garage at The Laurels in Lowestoft Road, the adjoining main road.

They say parking chaos would ensue if it were allowed to open, causing problems for weddings and funerals at the nearby St Margaret’s Church, and that extra traffic and the fact the establishment would stock drugs, would put children at risk.

It is already difficult to get out of their cul-de-sac due to cars parked alongside Lowestoft Road, they claim, and a new pharmacy would make matters worse.

The double garage used to be a toilet block, and residents say attempts are being made to set up a business “by the back door.”

More than 70 residents have signed a petition against the plans, and fear their lives would be changed forever if they go ahead.

Father-of-two Sean Clack, who lives in Imperial Mews, said: “We managed to fight off plans to build a fish shop there and we just want to be left in peace.

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“It just feels like the people behind this want to turn us into a retail park.”

He added: “We will become prisoners in our own close if it goes ahead.”

Support worker Mr Clack, 40, added the main road is already busy and would become more dangerous for elderly residents and children to cross if a pharmacy were built, due to extra traffic.

Libby Atcheson, 62, of Imperial Mews, said: “They want to build an empire here at our expense.

“I moved here 12 years ago due to ill health. I’m a retired pensioner and just wanted a small community where it’s quiet.”

Dean Bath, landlord of the White Hart Inn, which is opposite the proposed pharmacy site, said his main concern was parking.

“They do need a pharmacy somewhere, but this is not the place for it,” he added.

The planning application states the applicant has not consulted neighbours or the local community about the proposals, and residents are furious.

School teacher Rebecca Clack, 40, said: “They haven’t even spoken to the people who live here and it’s despicable.

“We will have treble the amount of traffic as when holidaymakers fall ill they would go to the pharmacy.

“We would have a stream of strangers and there are at least seven young children living in the close.”

The double garage is on The Laurels, land owned by Jay Formosa, but the applicant is Mr Y Sharief, of Roshban Ltd in Manchester.

A design and access statement shows the contract is with Mr Y Sharief courtesy of The Laurels in Hopton, but Mr Formosa said he does not know about the plans and did not wish to comment further.

The statement, prepared by Paul Smith Architectural Services of Belton, reads: “There is ample car parking space along the Lowestoft Road.”

Residents dispute this.

It continues: “The impact of the proposed change of use to pharmacy unit is minimal and all materials are to match the existing garage.

“It is with intention that when the proposed pharmacy is closed and the roller shutter is down, it retains the visual look of a garage within the surrounding areas.”

Plans are with Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and consultation is open until Friday, March 2.