Site visit set on Heacham homes scheme

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Councillors will visit the site of a proposed housing development in Heacham later this week.

Planning officials had called for the outline scheme at Cheney Hill to be approved, subject to the completion of legal agreements.

But, during a meeting of the West Norfolk Council planning committee today, members backed a request from ward councillor Peter Colvin for a site visit.

He argued that members needed to see existing traffic problems in the area for themselves before making a decision on the plan.

Earlier, parish councillor Terence Parish questioned why the application was being considered before issues relating to the village were examined at the inquiry into the council’s development framework next month.

In previous submissions to the committee, the parish authority argued that the application was “premature” and exceeded the total number of homes proposed for the village as a whole over the next decade.

And Mr Parish said the effect of other developments, including the nearby Hopkins Homes scheme for the southern edge of Hunstanton and the potential re-submission of contentious plans for a site off School Road, had to be considered.

He said: “We are likely to be surrounded by 300 dwellings we don’t want or need.”

But Julian Kerkham, representing the applicants, W H Kerkham (Rhoon) Ltd, said they had first started working on their proposals 18 months ago, following advice from council officials who forecasted the local plan process would be completed by now.

He said he appreciated concerns about the Hopkins Homes proposal, but argued that should not affect this scheme.

He said: “If there are concerns, that plan should be altered, not this one.”

Mr Kerkham also questioned the level of public opposition to the proposal, pointing out there were only 14 objections lodged by residents who are not councillors.

He said he therefore assumed the majority of residents supported the plan and insisted they had undertaken “robust” assessments of the transport situation before submitting their proposals.

The site visit will take place on Thursday morning before the committee reconvenes in Lynn to make a decision.