Plans for new youth housing scheme in Aylsham set to be given green light despite objections

A proposal for a new housing scheme in Aylsham which will help young homeless people is set to be given the green light despite a raft of objections to the plans.

Plans have been put forward for eight one-bedroom flats to be built along Station Road, adjacent to the Bure Valley Railway, (BVR) and on the site of a car park owned by Broadland District Council, which planning officers have estimated will result in the loss of 19 car parking spaces.

Seven of the flats will be occupied by 16-24-year-olds on maximum tenancies of two years, and the remaining flat would be occupied by an adult support worker, who would be present 24 hours-a-day.

The plans, which have been recommended for approval by planning officers, are set to be discussed by Broadland District Council's planning committee on Wednesday, January 12.

They have been put forward by the Flagship Housing Group, but once the flats, which will be built in a horseshoe shape with a courtyard in the middle, have been constructed, Victory Housing Trust will take over the ownership and management of them.

In a planning report, the council's housing development officer said: 'The supported housing scheme aims to give young people from the area the safety and stability to complete their transition to adulthood.

'The support is to help the young people live independently, learning skills like budgeting, managing bills and healthy cooking.'

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'Currently there is no supported, affordable accommodation for young people in the Broadland area.'

They said the need for the proposed scheme was indicated by the council's housing register, which in September last year listed 345 single young people aged 16-24.

But the plans have raised concerns in many quarters, particularly from some of the elderly residents who live in Bure Valley House, a 46-unit sheltered housing complex which boarders the application site, and others living nearby, who have asked if other more suitable sites have been looked at.

Residents also said they were concerned about possible anti-social behaviour from those staying in the flats and the loss of car parking spaces, which they believe will in fact be more than 19.

They said: 'The flats will have no effect other than to disturb elderly residents of Bure valley House, many elderly residents will be frightened to go out and have concerns about anti-social activities and crime occurring.'

Members of Aylsham Town Council said they although they support the scheme in general, the proposed site was 'totally inappropriate.'

They also expressed concern at the loss of car parking spaces and the disruption which they say would be caused to a main visitor attraction in the town - the BVR.

Objections to the application have also been made by an agent acting on behalf of BVR, who claim the development will severally affect their business.

They said: 'BVR wishes to associate itself with the widespread felling in the town, and as expressed by the town council, that this proposal and its effect on car parking will have a seriously detrimental effect upon an important amenity for the town as a whole.'

Norfolk County Council's acting as the Highway Authority added: 'Parking should not be removed from this location without the requirements of Aylsham being considered as a whole.'

But planning officers have said all prospective residents will be assessed before being let one of the flats and also, with regard to car parking, no spaces will be specifically designated to the flats, and instead these will be shared with visitors to BVR, which they point out does not operate an all year round service, and Aylsham.

They said there will also be CCTV around the flats, and that they had looked at the possibility of using alternative sites, but no other suitable ones had been found.

Officers said: 'Tenants of the new development could become part of the local community and the development itself could promote engagement with young people within Aylsham and provide a resource through employment or volunteering.

'Regard has been given to objections raised by members of the local community in reaching the officer recommendation, but it is ultimately considered that this application represents an acceptable form of development.'