Fury as diggers move on to King’s Lynn road site

Residents upset that work has started on clearing land that might be used for new housing.'left to right Joy Franklin, Angela Gallivan, Russell Gallivan, Amanda Boon, Lynne Fisher and David Franklin ANL-150503-083812009

Residents upset that work has started on clearing land that might be used for new housing.'left to right Joy Franklin, Angela Gallivan, Russell Gallivan, Amanda Boon, Lynne Fisher and David Franklin ANL-150503-083812009

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Protesters have squared up to the bulldozers as contractors moved in to clear the route of a proposed new road in Lynn.

Work on the route of the link between Edward Benefer Way and Lynnsport was halted on Wednesday when a small group of objectors confronted the workers, though they were expected to return yesterday.

West Norfolk Council chiefs have insisted the work is necessary to avoid delays to construction if the road is given planning permission, potentially by the end of this month.

The authority also maintains the work is being kept to a minimum and does not require planning permission.

But local resident Angela Gallivan claimed the move contradicted the council’s assurances over the plan for the road and several housing developments linked to it.

She said: “The council has said all along it’s not a done deal, but it’s clearly going to go through whatever the community says.”

The route is a key road link to controversial housing developments planned for a number of sites around the sports centre and Marsh Lane.

But objectors were furious when workers began clearing trees around a pond at the site on Wednesday morning.

A small group of local residents confronted the contractors, who campaigners claim then suspended work for the day. However, the workers were expected to return to the site yesterday.

Stuart Hall, chairman of the Lynnsport Area Residents’ Association (LARA), accused West Norfolk Council of working to an agenda that was “detached from the people.”

He said: “I would say they are simply bulldozing this scheme through, quite literally, in total disregard of what any one thinks or suggests.

“It’s councillors who live outside the town forcing this on those who live in the town.”

He also claimed that concerns raised by the Environment Agency about the road had not yet been addressed, although the council points out that the agency has not objected to the scheme.

But borough council officials say the work is “logistically necessary” to prepare the area for construction if planning permission is granted for the road.

That scheme could go before the borough’s planning committee as early as its next meeting on March 30, though that has still to be confirmed.

And Alistair Beales, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We’re keeping these to an absolute minimum. In the event that planning permission isn’t granted, we’ll have to think again.”

A council spokesman added that, although a decision has yet to be reached on the planning application, the principle of developing the area was approved at last Thursday’s full council meeting in the Lynn town hall.

Objectors heckled and slow handclapped after the proposal was approved.

She said: “Planning permission for these preparatory works is not required. The works need to take place now ahead of the bird nesting season to avoid lengthy delays.”

But she added: “The detail of the potential development is not a done deal as planning applications have yet to be submitted.”

The council has also proposed to set up an engagement forum, through which officials hope the local community and other interested parties will continue to have their say on the project.

Its spokesman said invitations to join the forum will be sent out next week, with the first meeting due to take place on March 24.