Norwich families save their car park from making way for flats
Â© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011
A victory has been chalked up for people power after families in one part of Norwich successfully persuaded city councillors not to get rid of their car park to make way for flats.
As part of an £8m tie up with the Homes and Communities Agency, the city council is selling a number of sites around the city so Orwell Housing Association can build a hundred new affordable homes.
But people living in Wymer Street, a cul-de-sac of Victorian terraces off Heigham Road in Norwich, were furious when they learned the 16-space car park at the end of their street was one of the sites earmarked for flats.
More than a dozen car parks and garage sites have gained planning permission for new homes, but at a meeting yesterday, councillors drew the line because of the concerns over Wymer Street.
More than 80 people living in the area signed a petition calling for the councillors to turn down the scheme for four two-bedroom flats. And councillors did, going against the advice of council officers who recommended approval.
Families’ concerns included that the loss of the car park would cause congestion and safety problems because the car park is the only safe place to turn around in such a narrow street.
The Norwich Cycling campaign agreed, saying that the loss of that space in the car park to turn around would increase the likelihood of cyclists being hit by cars trying to manoeuvre.
Families even made a model of Wymer Street to demonstrate the impact it would have on them if the flats were built.
Elizabeth Caldwell, who lives in Wymer Street, told the committee: “As a resident who has lived opposite the car park for 20 years, I can state the car park is used as a safe place to wait while other vehicles complete manoeuvres.
“We have great concerns that turning will not be safe without the car park. Contrary to what the report by officers states, we feel more vehicles will be going up the street to look for parking spaces or to unload shopping.
“Once they find they cannot park, they will have to turn back again and we feel that will be dangerous.”
Peter Wells, on behalf of Orwell Housing Association, said there would still be turning available at the entrance to the flats, where there would be four parking spaces for the people who live in the flats, while alternative parking would be available in Duoro Place.
But Rupert Read, Green councillor for Wensum ward, said it was “unacceptable” that the new flats would have parking spaces when the current householders were losing theirs.
He said it should be a car free development and recommended the scheme be turned down because of the safety issue.
Council lawyers also pointed out there could be legal issues about the use of private land to turn around in and councillors turned down the scheme because of safety fears over turning.
Afterwards, Heather Reeves, one of the objectors, said she was “thrilled” at the decision.
But families living in and around nearby Heigham Road and Belvoir Street failed in their attempt to save their car park from the axe. The committee agreed Orwell Housing should get permission to build five affordable homes on a 29-space car park off Belvoir Street.
Are you fighting a planning application where you live? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org