Parish council ‘reluctantly’ backs Castle Acre homes bid

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Conservation officials have shown a “lack of imagination and creativity” over plans for a large housing development in Castle Acre, according to community leaders.

The Holkham Estate and Grange Developments are seeking permission to build a total of 15 homes on Massingham Road.

The scheme has been recommended to be approved by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee at a meeting on Monday, subject to the completion of legal agreements on affordable housing and flood protection.

But, although parish councillors say they “reluctantly support” the proposal, they maintain the scheme could be improved.

Officers’ report to the committee reveals the plans were changed on the advice of conservation officials.

And the parish council said: “We are of the view that the conservation team has shown no imagination or creativity and has missed an opportunity to produce dwellings of real merit.”

In an unusual move, the developers have submitted a “hybrid” application, seeking full planning permission for four homes following the demolition of existing buildings.

The scheme then seeks outline planning permission for a further 11 properties on adjacent lands.

Several residents have raised objections to the proposal, including the number of homes planned, loss of amenity and agricultural land, as well as traffic levels.

Concerns had also been raised previously about the potential impact of the development on the village’s St James’ Church, but Highways England bosses now say they are satisfied with the plans.

The applicants also insisted the plan would enhance the surrounding conservation area.

And the report points out that the site is the only one in the village to have been put forward in the borough council’s blueprint for housing development over the next decade.

A government inspector is currently assessing the proposals, following a series of public hearings held in Lynn during the autumn.