Council chiefs urged to review West Norfolk housing plans

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Plans to set future housing allocations across West Norfolk could be halting current planning applications before they even come into force.

Borough council leaders have been asked to review their site allocations for development covering the period up to 2026 after a motion was passed at a meeting of the authority’s 
regeneration, environment and community panel on 
Wednesday.

The vote was taken after Priory councillor Jim Moriarty said the proposals were already affecting development plans.

He cited the village of Castle Acre, where the amount of land on which housing developments would be deemed 
acceptable, is set to be reduced under the framework.

He said: “I want the panel to understand there is a current impact. There were pockets of land that are going forward which now have an issue.

“Just this week an application that was due to go before the planning committee on Monday was withdrawn by 
officers on this very issue.”

Vivienne Spikings, the council’s cabinet member for development and planning committee chairman, said Mr Moriarty should not seek to “pre-determine” the application.

And officials said the council was in an interim position and that development boundaries had been moved “for good reasons.”

But Dersingham representative Tony Bubb warned the issue raised by Mr Moriarty could affect communities right across the borough.

He said: “I don’t think it should be having an effect on current planning applications until it is accepted and passed.”

As first reported in the Lynn News last Friday, the authority envisages that around 7,000 new homes will be needed over the next 12 years, with around 3,000 in the wider Lynn area.

The most recent proposal is for 330 homes and retail units to be built on the site of the Boal Quay car park.

And West Winch representative Paul Foster called for the council to raise the proportion of affordable homes to be built on lands that it owns from 15 to 20 per cent, which he said would bring it in line with the standards expected of private developers.

He said: “I believe the council should be proactive in building homes for people not just building houses for profit.”

But the panel rejected the call after officials said the 
allocation had been reassessed and it was deemed unviable to alter it.

Chief executive Ray 
Harding said: “I think it would be very unwise for us to attempt to set a level of affordable housing based on who owns a particular site.

“If the council wishes to grant a higher level of affordable housing in one of its developments, that’s a decision to be made at the time. If you want to give 25 per cent affordable housing at Boal Quay, you can do that.”

Emneth and Outwell councillor Chris Crofts questioned what provisions had been put in place to stop one landowner holding up developments by 
refusing to sell land, a practice known as a “ransom strip”, but officials said most landowners would 
identify other access options.

The framework will now go before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday.