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Inspector says appeal on rejected Norwich homes must go to public hearing

PUBLISHED: 17:28 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:28 21 May 2018

Flashback to 2016, when people were protesting over the potential development of St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane PIC: SIMON FINLAY

Flashback to 2016, when people were protesting over the potential development of St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane PIC: SIMON FINLAY

An inspector has ordered a public hearing to help them determine whether city councillors were right to prevent a Norwich church from being turned into flats.

Wymondham-based The Interesting Building Company wanted to redevelop the unused St Peter’s Methodist Church, off Park Lane, and the associated church hall and Boys’ Brigade buildings into 20 homes.

But members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee unanimously rejected that application last summer, on the grounds it did not meet City Hall’s policy requirements over affordable housing.

The developers had argued that providing 33pc of affordable homes at the site, to make it policy compliant, would render the scheme unviable.

And they refused to pay a commuted sum of £507,000 towards affordable homes elsewhere in the city, offering either three affordable homes on site or a commuted sum of £371,800.

There had been 172 objections to the scheme, with neighbours also expressing concern about overlooking, flooding and traffic.

Last December, the developers appealed against the council’s decision. The appeal started in March, with the Planning Inspectorate stating that it could deal with the appeal via written representation.

However, the Planning Inspectorate has decided a public inquiry will be needed, so the inspector can test the evidence by questioning or to clarify matters.

They added: “The case has also generated significant public interest”.

|The hearing will start at City Hall at 10am on Wednesday, August 8.

DVK Planning, on behalf of the applicant, is arguing the advice from the DVS (district valuer service), which the council used to determine what the affordable housing element should be was flawed.

They said the financial offer of £371,800 toward affordable housing would be “fair and reasonable” and the appeal should be allowed.

Norwich City Council, however, says the DVS figures “represent a fair assessment of the viability at the time of the decision” and say the appeal should be dismissed.

More than 60 other submissions, including from people living nearby, have been made urging that the appeal is rejected.

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