Hunstanton Town Council backs controversial homes proposal

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Objectors reacted angrily as town councillors reiterated their support for a controversial housing development on the outskirts of Hunstanton.

Some residents booed as the authority refused to oppose the idea of building homes on the southern edge of the resort during an extraordinary meeting at the town hall on Monday.

They then recommended that a proposal for 166 new homes, on land to the west of Redgate Hill, should be approved, despite calls from some councillors and residents to reject it.

After a motion calling for the council to object to the scheme was defeated, the town’s mayor, Carol Bower, said: “It seems we support the application.”

But there was loud applause when a member of the public retorted: “But we don’t support the council.”

The Hopkins Homes proposal has divided opinion in Hunstanton for the past year, after the town council reversed its previous policy of opposing development to the south of the town last August.

The meeting, which was attended by around 100 people, was told that two alternative sites in the town, which were put forward by the Le Strange Estate as possible housing development areas, are still available to be built on.

But, while one could be available at any time during the next four years, Jonathan Fryer, a partner from the Lynn-based Cruso Wilkin property consultants who are acting on the estate’s behalf, said the other would not be available until 2024 at the earliest.

Councillor Christine Earnshaw said she was “even more concerned” about the need for housing in the town following Mr Fryer’s presentation.

She said the reason the council had changed its position was because not enough land was available to enable the town to expand to the east, as members would have preferred.

Supporters also insist that more housing is needed to sustain economic growth in the town all year round, rather than just during the tourist season.

And, referring to the Hopkins Homes scheme, Mrs Earnshaw added: “This site is ready to go.”

But Daniel Parton claimed supporters were being too hasty in calling for the plan to go ahead now.

He said: “Doing this in a rush is not the way to plan a town.”

He argued that a decision should be delayed until West Norfolk Council had completed its local development framework for housing provision.

He said: “We should be pressing the borough to get it finished.”

One of the key issues surrounding the scheme is a proposed access point to the site from Hunstanton Road, Heacham, which critics insist is unacceptable.

Mrs Bower revealed she had discussed the proposal with the borough’s case officer, adding: “He felt the development hinged on access.”

But councillor John Maiden said the proposal would create “an incredible rat-run” if it was allowed to go ahead in its current form.

Earlier, during public question time, Heacham resident Terry Parish said he did not object to house building in Hunstanton. But he added: “I have got a problem with Hunstanton having houses that dump their traffic on to Heacham.”