Council chiefs approve future West Norfolk housing site allocations

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Developers could build on any area of land in West Norfolk if plans to regulate future housing development in the borough are not given the go-ahead, officials have warned.

The claim was made as borough council chiefs approved its proposed housing site allocations for development up until the year 2026.

But community leaders have been urged to put their cases for or against development in their areas when the scheme goes before an independent planning inspector.

Tuesday’s cabinet meeting was told that 6,499 new homes will be needed in the borough over the next 12 years.

Of those, around two thirds, 4,199 are proposed for the King’s Lynn area, which covers the town and the surrounding areas of West Lynn, North and South Wootton, Knights Hill, West Winch and North Runcton.

Almost 1,300 more homes are planned for the other main settlements, with 390 proposed for Downham, 333 in Hunstanton and 550 for fringe areas around Wisbech, including Walsoken.

The remaining 1,000 have been divided up among more than 50 villages across the borough, while a similar number of mostly smaller hamlets would see no development at all.

Last week, a council committee urged the cabinet to review the proposals, amid concerns they are impacting on current planning applications.

But council leader Nick Daubney said: “If we do nothing, if there was no plan, the fact is that every bit of land is up for grabs for planning permission.”

Alan Gomm, the authority’s local development framework manager, agreed, adding: “There is a great danger you would get plans proposed to build housing on lands that you don’t want it to happen on.”

And Mr Daubney said: “We want to protect the development of West Norfolk and to proceed in a sensible way.

“The government have had no sympathy for areas where chaos reigns and that’s not what I want here.”

But backbencher Chris Crofts called for the authority to look again at the decision to prevent any development in the village of West Walton, which he described as “unfair”.

He said that while development was envisaged in the nearby village of Walton Highway, most of the services its residents would use were located in West Walton, which is one of around 10 larger villages where no additional homes are currently proposed.

He also pointed out that, while the village was in the highest flood risk zone, several other villages deemed to be at similar flood risk were proposed to have new homes.

Mr Daubney said the case illustrated the difficulties that the council faced in drawing up the framework and urged parish councils to present their own submissions on the scheme.

Following the cabinet’s vote, the proposals will now go to the full council later this month.

If they are approved there, it will then be for an independent planning inspector to determine if the plan should come into force or not.

Mr Daubney said: “It’s really essential that the inspector is aware of these issues and the parishes and indeed ourselves submit to the inspector and I think that’s what West Walton will have to do.”