New meeting called to examine King’s Lynn link road plan following rules error

The view from Spenser Road, looking towards the town and Lynnsport, showing the open ditch and grass area of the proposed new highway. ANL-140809-133510009

The view from Spenser Road, looking towards the town and Lynnsport, showing the open ditch and grass area of the proposed new highway. ANL-140809-133510009

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Ray Harding

Members of the borough council’s planning committee voted to approve the new route between Edward Benefer Way and Lynnsport on Monday.

But, late on Tuesday afternoon, council chiefs announced permission had not been granted because of a technical error in how the proposal was handled.

And a special meeting will now have to take place next week to consider the scheme again.

The issue relates to the amount of time objectors were given to make their case against the proposal during this week’s meeting.

Because the road is classed as a major application, two people should have been allowed to speak for up to five minutes each against the plan.

However, they were told they were only allowed one speaker, for a maximum of three minutes.

And officials have admitted that campaigners against the proposal may have been left at a disadvantage as a result.

Council chief executive Ray Harding said: “This is a very unusual step, but it is important to us that procedures are properly followed. We have made a mistake and we must put it right.

“Giving people the opportunity to speak at planning committee is an important part of the democratic process and it must be done fairly and in accordance with the procedures we have in place.”

Resident Joy Franklin, who spoke on objectors’ behalf, welcomed the council’s decision, but said it was “regrettable” that it was needed at all.

Sue Bruce, a member of the Lynnsport Area Residents’ Association (LARA) committee, said they were pleased at the reprieve, which will enable objectors to make their case in more detail.

But she believes the episode could raise wider questions about the authority’s handling of the whole project.

She said: “It shows a disregard for the points we’re making. They’re rushing it.”

An agenda for the new meeting has already been published on the council’s website, setting out the reasons for the new meeting and the continuing recommendation of officers to approve the scheme.

But Labour councillor Jim Moriarty, who argued for a deferral of the programme during Monday’s debate, said: “I said at the meeting that the application felt premature and didn’t understand why we could not defer any decision until the drainage issues had been settled.

“I still don’t understand the rush and I am grateful that the procedural error will mean there is greater chance of an fully-informed decision being made by the committee and also that objectors will be able to exercise their full rights to argue the case to the committee.”

The meeting is due to take place at the council’s offices in Chapel Street, Lynn, next Friday, April 10, at 10am.