Stoke Ferry facing ‘explosion’ of development, councillor warns

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A parish councillor has warned his village could “explode” in size under current and future development proposals.

Community representatives in Stoke Ferry have been urged to develop a neighbourhood plan in order to have greater influence over the future shape of the area.

But, although a decision was deferred, questions were raised over whether there are enough elected representatives to pursue the idea.

Like many communities in West Norfolk, Stoke Ferry has seen a surge of new housing proposals in recent times.

And Wednesday’s parish council meeting was told that up to 130 new homes could be built under current and pending planning applications.

John Nicholas-Letch said that would represent an increase of around 25 per cent in the village’s current size.

And he urged members to follow the example of other villages around the borough who have either completed or are developing their own neighbourhood plans.

He said: “We really ought, as a parish , to be looking at different ways of doing things.

“We’re looking at an explosion in the vilage that we have no means of controlling.

“By going through the neighbourhood plan process, we will have the ability to control some of it.”

The plan is intended to set out a vision of how a community feels it could withstand future development and where it feels that development should take place.

Three large applications, proposing a total of 81 new homes for the village, are currently lodged with West Norfolk Council.

And Mr Nicholas-Letch said a further 46 were also in the pipeline.

He said a working party, including councillors and residents, should be set up to lead the process of developing a plan for the village.

He added that the council could also apply for a grant of up to £9,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government to help cover the costs of preparing the document.

A decision was initially deferred until the council’s next meeting in August.

But the meeting later heard the authority may not have enough elected members to carry out the necessary work, as many of its current members were co-opted to take their seats.

Two villages, Brancaster and North Wootton, already have neighbourhood plans in operation after their documents were approved by residents of the respective areas in referenda last autumn.

A joint plan is currently being prepared for the parishes of West Winch and North Runcton.

Ten other towns and villages in the borough – Bircham, Downham, Holme-next-the-Sea, Hunstanton, Sedgeford, Snettisham, Tilney All Saints, Upwell, Walpole Cross Keys and West Dereham – have also begun work on their own documents.

And West Norfolk Council officials say several other communities have expressed an interest in preparing their own plans.