New inquiry set to open into Heacham housing proposal

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A public inquiry into proposals for dozens of new homes and sheltered housing units in Heacham is due to begin today.

A government inspector will determine whether the scheme for land off School Road, Heacham, should be given the go-ahead or not.

Developers Townsfolk and the Broadland Housing Association are seeking permission to build 70 new homes, dozens of sheltered housing units and a care home on land to the west of the A149. Access to the site would be from School Road.

The application, which followed earlier proposals to build up to 350 homes on the site, was initially turned down by West Norfolk Council in February 2014.

An appeal against that decision was turned down following a public inquiry last year.

But a second inquiry is now taking place after government officials conceded the applicants’ argument that the inspector should have taken an earlier ruling relating to the old Fosters sports ground in Clenchwarton into account.

In that case, in which the borough council lost a subsequent legal challenge at the High Court in London, the inspector ruled that the authority did not have an adequate five-year supply of housing land.

The original ruling in the Heacham case was also quashed at the High Court.

The new hearing, which will take place at the Lynnsport leisure centre in Lynn, is also the first major test of the borough council’s assertion that it now does have an adequate supply of housing land.

The authority claimed it had reached the required threshold last month, after hundreds of new homes were approved across the borough during three days of planning committee meetings.

Supporters maintain that there is an identified need for the types of housing the proposed development would provide.

But objectors say the approval of other projects in the area since then fundamentally undermines the case for the scheme.