Plans to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people close to an industrial estate in North Lynn have been approved, despite warnings of a “safety nightmare”.
Opponents of the plan for seven modular units between Bryggen Road and Reid Way claimed the scheme set an unwelcome precedent by allowing construction on land between the industrial estate and existing homes.
But supporters argued during Monday’s West Norfolk Council planning committee meeting that human needs had to come first, as members voted 12 to three in favour.
Ahead of the meeting, planning officials had recommended that the scheme, submitted by Broadland Development Services, was turned down, because of the environmental harm that would be done to the area.
Independent Sandra Squire said the application looked like a “box-ticking exercise” as she highlighted the reference in the council’s homelessness strategy to providing temporary family accommodation.
She said that, combined with the siting of the units next to an industrial estate and lorry park “could be an absolute safety nightmare.”
She added: “Something is better than nothing but is this really the best we can do? To shove them out of town a kilometre out of town? Really, come on. We should be doing better than this.”
And Labour’s new group leader, Charles Joyce, spoke of his own experience of homelessness as he set out his concerns about the scheme.
He told members: “I have had the stars for a blanket and it’s not very comfortable, I have to say, and it was in December and it’s not very pleasant.”
But he added: “Would this be for people to live there in permanent housing? I would suggest not.
“As someone who has actually had the experience, I don’t want to put someone in a worse predicament than I was.”
The application was also opposed by ward councillor Ben Jones.
And Jo Rust said: “It won’t just blur the boundary between the industrial and the urban. It will demolish it wholeheartedly and totally and it will open the door to more such developments.”
Conservative member Martin Storey said the debate was one of the most finely balanced he had heard for some time.
He added: “We know that it is not an ideal site in planning terms. But my opinion in planning terms has been overtaken by the human element which has to come first. Let’s give these people a chance.”
Sam Sandell said the proposal was a “real opportunity.”
And committee chairman Chris Crofts said: “I believe the benefits of allowing this to proceed are, by far, the best thing for the homeless.”
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