Revealed: Fresh housing scheme for former sports centre site in Norwich

Plans to breathe new life on the site of a former Norwich sports club have been revived.

Proposals to build 65 homes at the former Lakenham Sports and Leisure Centre site have been put forward to Norwich City Council.

The outline planning application seeks to redevelop the site for housing, public open spaces, a children's play area, allotments and five-a-side football pitches.

The plans come just months after previous proposals were dropped by the city council when the cabinet suggested, among other reasons, there would be a loss of open space.

People living in the area now plan to form a committee and to host a meeting next month to discuss the proposals.

Midwife Lisa Hobbs, who lives in Smithfield Road with her husband Nick and their two children, said: 'I don't really want anything on there but I do understand the need for more housing.

'Sixty-five homes is more than I anticipated and I would be quite concerned about the amount of traffic caused. I am worried about the fact that our road would be used to access the site - we chose to live here because it is so quiet.'

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Pete Hammerton, 47, who lives in Smithfield Road and works in the building trade, said he was not against the plans but would like to see more provision for affordable housing.

Proof reader Neill Johnstone, 38, who lives with his wife Deborah and their son Billy in Smithfield Road, said: 'It would be naive to imagine that we are going to keep it maintained as green space and we accept that some houses are going to be built there.

'But the infrastructure at present cannot support the planned homes. If you are going to build too many homes, it is going to overburden the roads and we don't want to see Smithfield Road used as a through road.'

Under the proposals, all of the existing buildings currently on the 3.18 hectare area of land off Cricket Ground Road would be demolished.

The new homes would include 18 four-bedroom and 26 three-bedroom properties, 13 three-bedroom affordable houses and eight one bedroom affordable houses for people with mobility impairments.

There would be extensions to existing Smithfield Road, Carshalton Road and Geoffrey Road pedestrian, cycle and vehicular routes the creation of pedestrian and cycle routes through the site between Cricket Ground Road and Smithfield Road and land owned and occupied by Norfolk County Council at County Hall.

There are also plans for public allotments, children's playground and two acres of public open space including five-a-side football pitches.

Patrick Manning, Labour city councillor for Lakenham, said: 'The outline plans are not substantially different from the proposals that were put forward last year which were not well received by residents.

'I'm not wanting to pre-judge anything but I don't think this application is going to go down too well with people in the area.'

Simon Wright, Norwich South MP, said he was 'disappointed' to hear about the latest application.

He said: 'I'm sure many residents will be disappointed to hear that the site owners have come back with further plans so soon after the council decided not to include the site on its site allocation plan for the future.

'Many residents have raised concerns with me over the years about the site which has high heritage value to that part of Norwich.

'There have been significant concerns about an increase in traffic in the area in what is already part of the city with quite narrow streets. I would urge residents to write, once again, to me and to the council to highlight their concerns.'

The plans are the latest in a long line of proposals for housing on the site.

At the end of 2010, plans to build more than 80 homes at the former Lakenham Sports and Leisure Centre site met opposition from families living nearby.

There were also once proposals to build a sports centre or a care facility on the land which has been vacant since the leisure centre closed in 2007.

Chris Leeming, director of Lanpro, the agents working on behalf of the landowners Serruys Property Company (SPC), said: 'We plan to redevelop the site to help meet the housing need of the greater Norwich area.

'The site is a short walk away from shops and benefits from good transport links. We are delighted to be delivering the new Lakenham park to meet the stated need and desires of the local people.

'I can see real community benefits in redeveloping the land in line with the application submitted on behalf of SPC.'

The date for a residents' meeting is yet to be confirmed. Look out in the Norwich Evening News for more details.

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