Luxury homes built in south Norfolk BEFORE developer met planning conditions

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:22 14 June 2018

The Watermill Meadow development at Stoke Holy Cross. Photo: Archant

The Watermill Meadow development at Stoke Holy Cross. Photo: Archant


Luxury homes have been built and marketed in South Norfolk before planning conditions for them have been met.

The Watermill Meadow development at Stoke Holy Cross. Photo: ArchantThe Watermill Meadow development at Stoke Holy Cross. Photo: Archant

The houses at the Watermill Meadow development, off Broomfield Road in Stoke Holy Cross, were given planning permission in June 2017 by South Norfolk District Council (SNDC).

As is the case with most large developments, building was not meant to begin until certain conditions had been met for sewerage, flooding and roads.

But Hopkins Homes have built and marketed the houses, even though several planning conditions have not been discharged.

SNDC said it would not take enforcement action but was working with the developer to resolve the issue.

Retired solicitor John Martin discovered the new home he wanted to buy had not met planning conditions. Photo: John MartinRetired solicitor John Martin discovered the new home he wanted to buy had not met planning conditions. Photo: John Martin

The council is also having a meeting with all major builders to remind them about abiding by planning conditions, following this case.

Hopkins Homes, meanwhile, said it had been in “full and regular dialogue” with the council but “unexpected delays” had held up the discharge of conditions. They said they expected the remaining conditions to be discharged shortly.

John Martin, who looked at buying one of the homes, said he was “horrified” when he discovered conditions had not been met.

The retired solicitor paid £1,000 to reserve one of the homes in April.

The Watermill Meadow development at Stoke Holy Cross. Photo: ArchantThe Watermill Meadow development at Stoke Holy Cross. Photo: Archant

He paid another £3,000 for extras at the five-bedroom, £550,000 home.

But Hopkins later told him that the foul water drainage for his home would not be connected to the mains by the time he moved in and would instead be stored in a pumping station.

One Hopkins employee, however, told him in an email that was “completely normal” and the sewerage would be connected within the following two months.

In a complaint to Hopkins, Mr Martin said he could not “lawfully” occupy the home as he would be moving in before planning conditions had been discharged.

The Hopkins Homes website for its Stoke Holy Cross development. Image: Hopkins HomesThe Hopkins Homes website for its Stoke Holy Cross development. Image: Hopkins Homes

Hopkins refunded him his money and repaid his legal costs.

Mr Martin also complained to SNDC.

One SNDC planning officer said in an email to him he “shared his frustration”, but added that the council was working with the developer.

The planning conditions included details of water drainage to reduce flooding risks, details of foul water and sewage disposal and plans for roads and footpaths to be approved by the council before building began.

In September last year, Hopkins asked SNDC to discharge the conditions.

But the highways authority, Norfolk County Council, said highway conditions should not yet be discharged.

In April it said “there remains a concern” with the road foundations which had already been built “without adequate testing”.

The flood authority, meanwhile, said in May it was concerned the development had begun before flooding conditions had been met and conditions should not be discharged.

“A number of properties may be at risk from flooding in an exceedance event,” it said.

“We would recommend that the external ground levels immediately adjacent to the entrances to the buildings are reviewed and amended in line with best practice.”

And Anglian Water said in April that the planning condition for getting rid of sewage had not been met. “It is not clear from the provided documentation what the proposed foul drainage solution is for this site,” it said.

But last week it recommended that condition could now be discharged.

Regarding flooding, SNDC said in June it had met with the flood authority and their concerns would be addressed, meaning that condition could soon be discharged.

The council also said the highway authority had now told them the “majority of details” submitted by Hopkins were “satisfactory”.

Simon Bryan, development director at Hopkins, said they had encountered “unexpected delays” in the planning process.

“The development at Stoke Holy Cross has been built in full and regular dialogue with the local planning authority and to the correct house building standards stipulated in the planning conditions and high standards that we insist upon,” he said.

“As a result, all completed buildings have been formally signed off by the National House Building Council.”

He added the remaining conditions were expected to be discharged “very shortly”.

•Why council allowed development

Planning authority South Norfolk Council (SNDC) allowed the building work to carry on even though conditions had not been met.

The council said its policy was to “actively seek to resolve any breaches of planning control”.

It said it worked with developers in the first instance to get them to meet conditions.

It only considered taking enforcement where there was “demonstrable harm being caused to matters of public interest”, a spokesman said.

In this case, the spokesman said, it was “disappointing” the conditions had not been met before the development began.

They said the delay to the council discharging conditions was caused by them needing more details from Hopkins.

SNDC is now setting up a meeting with directors of all major house builders in the region to highlight the importance of conditions put in when applications are approved.

•Follow the latest from our investigations unit on Facebook

Latest Property Articles

South Norfolk is a house-building hotspot, coming seventh in a new league table showing the areas of the UK where the most new homes have been built over the past seven years.

A stunning manor house boasting 12 bedrooms and situated in almost 19 acres of gardens and grounds south of Norwich has come on the market for offers in excess of £2.4 million.

Savills in Norwich have relocated to a modern new office. Louis de Soissons, head of residential, tells us more.

If you’re looking for luxury living in a new home, this weekend, many showhomes are open to potential buyers with several open events planned around the county.

See the building work going on at a former Methodist chapel in east Norfolk which is being converted into a luxury home, shortly going up for sale. Property editor Caroline Culot went to take a look.

If you are looking to buy a secret hideaway, this intriguing detached, two bedroom brick and flint railway cottage near Norwich, tucked away and completely hidden from view, is for sale at auction for a guide price of £180,000-£190,000.

The housing market may be showing signs of a pre-Brexit slowdown but your home still went up in value in Norfolk, and even more so in Suffolk, over the summer, new figures show.

He was famous as a Victorian circus owner and was then immortalised in a song by The Beatles.

A £45m scheme for more than 200 homes on a Norwich city centre site, empty for more than a decade, has been submitted.

An investment management firm is looking to build up to 500 new homes near Thorpe St Andrew.

Buying a new home in Blofield comes with an extra special housewarming present in the form of a big hamper filled with goodies from the local farm shop - all thanks to a new collaboration between house builders Kier and agents Bidwells.

TV celebrity Linda Barker is to design eight new holiday lodges just given planning permission.

This year the invaluable government-backed Help to Buy scheme, helping young people get onto the property ladder, turned five years old. Alison Page, from David Wilson Homes, tells us more.

If you’re not married and you or your partner dies, if you haven’t made a will, it can have devastating consequences. Jo Tinson, from Spire solicitors, gives legal advice.

After cabinet minister Liz Truss called for more homes to be built in the countryside, the debate has raged on over whether the government needs to change planning laws to enable this. Property editor Caroline Culot asked two estate agents for their view.

Developers behind major schemes deemed crucial to regenerating parts of Norwich could be excused from paying a levy of thousands of pounds.

Not only has Polish carpenter Boguslaw Starzec almost doubled in size a modest bungalow, but he has also created the most incredible interiors mostly furnished with bargain buys from auction and eBay. Property editor Caroline Culot went to visit to find out more.

New homes often come with incentives to buyers such as carpets, curtains and appliances - but one developer has now linked up with a top Norfolk restaurant to literally whet the appetite when buying a new house.

What’s top on your list of must-haves when you move? Probably a fantastic kitchen or bathroom - or both! These are the rooms which many people change. However, if you are looking for a bathroom which really gets you in a lather, how about these in homes for sale which might just tantalise you into making that move.

Once thought to have been demolished along with a magnificent mansion, this former falconer’s lodge was discovered in the forest and has now been transformed into a magical holiday hideaway.

It’s often called the cruellest tax of all. But exactly how much inheritance tax do you have to pay, when and can you avoid it?

Does your letting agent hide behind the Data Protection Act to avoid sending you vital paperwork? Mike White, from Martin & Co in Norwich, discusses.

Earlier this year saw the introduction of the profound changes to the taxation of buy-to-let investments, leaving landlords scrambling around trying to protect themselves from higher tax bills due to the reduced deductibility of mortgage interest. Jon Hook, managing director of Norwich Accountancy Services, tells us more.

Buying a new home brings lots of benefits, some you may not even have thought of. Dawn Urry, from Bennett Homes, tells us more.

An apartment occupying an entire floor in Norwich’s Westlegate Tower has just gone on sale for £750,000.

When Norfolk primary school teachers Courtenay and Joey Caston decided to 
buy a house, they never imagined they would be spending every spare moment doing everything from knocking down walls to realigning a chimney. Property editor Caroline Culot went along to find out more about the renovation project.

With first time buyers an ever growing proportion of the new build market, the sort of homes being built for them must adapt to remain in demand, according to recent research by Savills. Tamara Greener, from Savills New Homes, discusses.

The Property Shop in Acle reports a hot summer in terms of property sales and listings, selling on average one property a day last month. Managing director Sheron Harley discusses.

Demolishing Norwich’s Mile Cross depot, to make way for hundreds of new homes, will cost almost £2m - because the site is so contaminated, council bosses have revealed.

Thirty-five homes could be created above Norwich’s Jobcentre, if proposals get the green light.

It’s one of the most historic landmarks in Norfolk, let alone the city, and this house for sale is believed to be one of the last homes that exists there. Property editor Caroline Culot had the great privilege of visiting Elm Hill, where this marvellous house of history is for sale for a guide price of £900,000.

If your house is bursting at the seams, a usable conservatory or garden room may be just the answer.

If the idea of relaxing in your own hot tub feels just like a pipe dream, read on. Expert Ben Halton-Farrow from Wensum Pools says they’re easier to install and run than many of us may think.

We’ve all seen crazes for coffee makers and juicers come and go and come back again, but what do we actually use and what’s still in the box?

If you look around your kitchen and feel overwhelmed by crowded worktops, greasy cooker hoods and overflowing cupboards, try our one step at a time cleaning plan.

Does your bathroom resemble a battleground in the mornings? Elbows at the ready as you jostle for space over the basin, arguments over who gets to shower first, and a regularly disputed timeshare of the bathroom mirror. Here are some tips for creating a harmonious ‘his and hers’ bathroom.

Houseplants are enjoying a bit of a boom, and rightly so. Not only do they look great, they’re also good for your health and wellbeing, so what better place to keep them than in the bathroom?

Mermaids usually help lost seafarers but in the case of this 300-year-old former coaching inn, it is the one in need of saviour. The former Mermaid Inn at Hedenham is going under the auction hammer, for sale for £190,000-£225,000, after falling on hard times.

Fancy buying part of the heritage of Great Yarmouth? A rare chance to buy a detached house in the grounds of the former Royal Naval Hospital, South Denes, has arisen.

Developers behind the revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square could lodge revised plans within days, amid speculation the height of the scheme’s controversial tower might be cut.

A former school and acres of farmland look set to be sold off by council bosses as they grapple with ways to close a budget gap of almost £100m.

Winner of Channel 4’s Come Dine with Me, culinary queen Polly Guy is joining the line-up of Norfolk’s top chefs at the Aylsham Show’s Cookery Theatre event tomorrow, stepping in at the last minute after a cake making cancellation.

Neighbours who battled to stop student flats being built near their homes are celebrating after a planning inspector dismissed an appeal over the scheme.

Meet the Editor

Caroline Culot


I am the property editor in charge of delivering some exciting and informative content within Archant’s varied titles. We have 16-17 pages of stories, features and columns in the EDP Property supplement out every Friday free in your EDP so please don’t miss it.