A bid to build new flats in a Norfolk town centre has been approved despite mass objections from locals who fear it will lead to more anti-social behaviour.
The applicant says the development in Thetford will bolster affordable housing in the town and the design has been revised to be more in-keeping with the area.
However, more than 40 people living in the Guildhall Street area opposed the development, which will create four small flats housing 11 people on land currently used as a car park.
In a statement read out by Thetford councillor Ann Blackborn, locals claimed that tenants of an adjacent property – owned by the developer AR & RR Properties Ltd – have been causing problems in the area through anti-social and intimidating behaviour.
Accusations included drug dealing, loud music and people driving away from the properties while under the influence of drink and drugs.
These issues are currently being investigated by the council and police, according to Mrs Blackborn.
People feared that by building the new flats it would increase the challenges in the area.
Councillor Mike Brindle added: “At what point do we say the public are making it clear that they don’t want this?
“The fact that a security gate is included in the plans is an appalling concept. Who wants to live in a town gated away from each other.”
However, officer Rebecca Collins highlighted that the application must be determined through planning policies, not by the number of objections received.
Councillors also feared that building on a car park would reduce the number of spaces for locals and visitors but, since it was private land, it was deemed this was irrelevant to the application.
When it came to the vote, six councillors chose to approve the flats, with four members objecting.