“Haven of Peace for Scarning?
Inquiry into “Homes for the nervous” plan
A proposal to develop a “haven of peace” in the heart of Norfolk was the subject of a public inquiry at Dereham yesterday.
The appeal was by Messrs. Potter Brothers, the Dereham building firm, against refusal by Norfolk County Council to allow 65 homes to be built on a site at Low Meadow, Podmore, Scarning.
The site, said Mr. L.H. Allwood who appeared for the firm, was one ideally suited for the purpose and it was in fact deliberately chosen because of its isolation.
“No builder in his right mind would ever contemplate speculative building of an ordinary estate in such a spot,” Mr. Allwood added.
Mr. Allwood then went on to explain that the houses would cater for a special class of people – not necessarily elderly people, but more middle-aged people who for personal reasons wanted a country life.
“It is Mr. Potter’s experience that there are innumerable people throughout the country who for one reason or another have found themselves unable to survive the hurly burly of urban life. are nervous and possibly near physical wrecks who desperately seek a home in a place where they can live in peace and quiet – a haven, Scarning Haven as Mr. Potter would call this venture.” said Mr Allwood.
Mr. Allwood referred to Mr Potter as a builder in “a very substantial way”, and a most religious man. He described his Quebec Hall and Eckling Grange retirement schemes at Dereham as probably unique in the whole of the country.”
“This proposed Scarning Haven will operate in exactly the same way, the dwellings being purchased at a low fee, with the capital, less an agreed rent for time spent in occupation refunded if the person concerned wanted to leave,” said Mr Allwood.
Giving evidence, Mr David Potter, head with a firm, said that the need for the type of haven he proposed was overwhelming. “It would be a true haven, a harbour from the rough storm of life” he said.
Mr Potter explained that he proposed having two resident wardens on the site, swimming pool, a shop as well as the usual amenities and British Railways had agreed to provide a halt for residents.
Mr. Michael Litton, of the firm of R.C. Knights & Sons, said the land as it stood at present was derelict and unused. It had been offered for agricultural use but no one was interested.
Mrs. Roger North, branch director of Norfolk Red Cross, told the inquiry that the new Red Cross H.Q. in Dereham had been built at cost price by Mr. Potter.
“Not for gain”
“I am sure he is not in this project for financial gain. I was very much surprised to find that there were still such men in business. This new scheme will fulfil as great a need as the two old people schemes have done ,” said Mrs North.
Mr. J.B. Heath, for the County Council, said Mr. Potter’s application was refused because it was contrary to the basic planning policy of the Council.
“This site is isolated from the village and from the trunk road. The County Council tries to integrate development in the open countryside with existing development. Here we have an urban layout which would be super imposed on a purely rural landscape.”
Shot in arm
Mr Heath considered that the project could be associated with any one of the numerous villages in Norfolk, which were stagnating in a rural backwater, and would welcome it as a shot in the arm.
Mr. K.P. Dickerson, the north-west area planning officer, said that when the original application was refused, it appeared to be a straightforward housing estate. Mr Potter, then submitted further evidence that it was the house people who were medically sick or in hard circumstances, but he did not feel this outweigh the original objections.
Mr. Dickerson agreed with Mr Allwood that it would add to the cost of the dwellings, if they were built elsewhere as the 16 acres appeal site had probably been bought exceptionally cheaply.
After the formal cases for Mr Potter, and the County Council closed, Mr. G. Marfleet Brown, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government inspector, conducting the enquiry asked if any of the 90-odd people most of them from Quebec Hall and Eckling Grange, who crowded the hall, wish to speak. nine individuals spoke in support of Mr Potter. They emphasised the success of the old peoples settlements, and also the genuine altruistic motives of Mr Potter.
When the hearing closed, Mr Marfleet Brown said he would visit the appeal site, and at the request of Mr Allwood, he agreed to visit Quebec Hall and Eckling Grange too.”
Published on Friday 10 Aug 1962 by the Eastern Daily Press.
Download a full scale PDF version of the EDP page – 10th August 1962 – this is highly recommended as it allows you to read all the other fascinating stories, including one titled “A piglet called in the night”, an advert for Mace shops selling “Joy to eat” sardines for 1 shilling, and an advert for Heatrae electrical goods from Norwich entitled “The Best Of East Anglian Craftsmanship”.