Controversial Hunstanton housing scheme approved

Planning
Planning

A controversial housing scheme for Hunstanton was approved today, despite warnings about “over-development” in the area.

Members of the West Norfolk Council planning committee voted 11 to three in favour of the Hopkins Homes proposal for 166 homes at the southern end of the town, subject to the completion of legal agreements.

The decision comes more than two years after plans to develop the site south-west of Redgate Hill were first made public.

Robert Eburne, Hopkins Homes’ planning manager, told the committee the company remained committed to completing the project.

He said: “The application is sustainable and environmentally respectful.

“I have received many calls from local people who would want to live and work there.”

But committee member Avril Wright said she feared the potential for “chaos” if the current proposal for access to the site via a roundabout off the A149 and a T-junction with Hunstanton Road, Heacham, was not re-examined.

She said: “This stretch of the A149 is potentially becoming over-developed. It’s a tourist attraction where people come to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life.

“This whole stretch will look like a sprawling urban conurbation, not the seaside villages people want to come to.”

Peter Colvin, who represents the Heacham ward where parish councillors also oppose the scheme amid fears over the impact of the scheme on their community, criticised roads officials, who he claimed had not provided consistent advice on highways issues in the area.

He said: “I find it astonishing that county highways cannot come up with a consistent guideline for access from the A149. It beggars belief.”

And Tony Bubb suggested the proposed road layout would not encourage residents to access services in Hunstanton.

He said: “Virtually everybody will leave and go south. The A149 has enough problems as it is.

“Listen to the local knowledge. They foresee traffic problems. So do I.”

But planning officials said a previously proposed access to the site, via Harry’s Way, had itself provoked fierce opposition from residents of the Manorfields estate.

And Hunstanton ward representative Carol Bower said that, while she shared the concerns over access, the scheme had been “sensitively altered” in response to public concerns.

She added: “We desperately need affordable houses in Hunstanton.

“We have many families having to live in King’s Lynn and further along the coast because they cannot find suitable housing. This will address that issue.”

Elizabeth Watson added: “We don’t want Hunstanton just to be a retirement town. It should be a mixed town. A mixed town works much better.”

Town councillor Christine Earnshaw earlier told the committee that a majority of the authority’s members had consistently voted in favour of the scheme as they believed its benefits outweighed the harm caused.