Planning for new homes in Heacham is opposed

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Opposition was universal at a protest meeting at Heacham at the possible acceptance of planning applications that could lead to several hundred new residential properties being built in the village.

Resident Adrian Hood called the meeting at Heacham’s Old Friend Hall on Saturday to fight an amended application by Townsfolk Housing and Broadland Housing Association to build around 70 homes, sheltered housing and a care home at the end of School Road.

The initial application, submitted some three years ago, was for fives times as many homes.

The plans have been repeated blocked by the borough council and the developers lost an appeal at a public inquiry last year.

However, that verdict was later quashed by the High Court and a second inquiry is now scheduled for May.

Mr Hood said: “My main concern is the impact on the junction of Broadway and School Road which is already congested at school times.”

If accepted, it is estimated the development will create some 200 extra traffic movements a day past Heacham Infant and Nursery school.

But the scope of meeting went far beyond this particular scheme because both the parish council and residents believe applications for a swathe of new residential housing, both passed and pending, threaten to destroy what is claimed to be England’s largest village.

An application for 69 new homes at Cheney Hill has been accepted as has a development of 166 houses, submitted by neighbouring Hunstanton on land by the A149 road bordering Heacham’s parish boundary.

It is feared that the residents of the Hunstanton development, unable to quickly access the main A149 road, especially when traffic was heavy in the summer months, would instead stream through Heacham producing a ‘rat run’.

Protesters feel the failure of the borough’s planning authority to produce a coherent forward-looking plan that applications by a host of small developers could produce haphazard in-fill buildings right across the village.

Parish councillor Terry Parish said: “If all the developments go through it could result in several hundred new houses being built.

“We could become an enormous suburb.”

He added that the infrastructure of the village would be unable to cope with such a dramatic expansion.

“Local amenities, such as the health services, sewage and the roads couldn’t cope,” he said.

Parish council vice-chairman Daniel Parton emphasised that there are serious traffic safety issues while parish councillor Peter Colvin, who is on the borough planning committee, said his efforts to contain the issue had so far been unsuccessful.

The inquiry into the school road development will be held at the council offices on Tuesday, May 17.

Heacham residents opposed to the plans have been urged to attend in the inquiry so that their views can be heard.