Villagers reject controversial bid

PUBLISHED: 17:27 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:44 03 July 2010

Miles Jermy

RESIDENTS voted this week to reject a controversial plan to create a conservation area in Stokesby.

The poll took place following a packed public meeting to discuss the proposal on Tuesday night.

RESIDENTS voted this week to reject a controversial plan to create a conservation area in Stokesby.

The poll took place following a packed public meeting to discuss the proposal on Tuesday night.

A total of 85 villagers were against the conservation area, representing 62pc of votes cast, with 53 in favour.

A final decision will be made by the Broads Authority later this year.

During the meeting, which had been organised by the parish council, Broads Authority bosses were quizzed on the issue which has divided opinion in the village.

Ben Hogg, the authority's head of culture, heritage and design, said the conservation area would create an extra layer of protection to enhance and protect the character of the village.

“It was recommended that parish council consult villagers to see if a consensus can be reached on the issue,” he added. “I am not aware of a designation not going through as a result of public opposition, but the views of the community are taken very seriously.”

Speakers raised a range of issues including the impact of a conservation area on property prices, planning applications and housing developments.

Rick Sargeant, who ran the village post office, which closed last year, said: “We are applying for a change of use to alter the shop back to domestic use. I'm worried this is another layer of bureaucracy and will just add to the rules and regulations.”

Trevor Barber was among the villagers who have been campaigning against creating a conservation area in Stokesby.

He said: “I feel the answers we were given were inconclusive and have no more confidence in the proposal at the end of the meeting than I did at the start.

“I am still very much against the idea; it is just another layer of bureaucracy. Even if the vote is conclusively against, the Broads Authority will probably push this through anyway. It could just be a cosmetic exercise.”

Melanie Ward asked if creating a conservation area would increase house prices in the village making it more difficult for young people to buy homes there.

Richard Dixon, who was among those in favour of the plan, said: “Some people are disappointed in the way the Broads Authority managed aspects of the process, but this was a worthwhile exercise and gave everyone to have their say.”

Another supporter, parish councillor David Trowbridge, described Stokesby as a “little piece of heaven in the Broads that is important to pass that on to future generations.”

Concerns were expressed that permission would be needed to fell or carry out work on trees if a conservation area was created.

Broads Authority solicitor Keir Hounsome said: “I do not recall the Broads Authority prosecuting anyone for breaching a TPO over the last 20 years. If people accept and understand the rules they do not break them.”

Part of the village, where Great Yarmouth Borough Council is the planning authority, would not be covered by the conservation area.

Mr Hogg told the meeting that some houses in Filby Road had not been included following objections from the council.

He added: “It's not the case that people would need permission to repaint their front doors, these are just scare stories that have been put about.”

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