Turnstone, by John Maiden, January 12, 2016

VISITORS GUIDE - the town sign on the green, Hunstanton. ENGANL00120111008163341
VISITORS GUIDE - the town sign on the green, Hunstanton. ENGANL00120111008163341

In a letter to the Lynn News on January 1, ‘name and address supplied’ inferred that as the provider of more than 100 full-time jobs, Searles should be allowed to proceed with the sale of land for a large housing estate on Redgate Hill.

But there is no evidence to support a claim that the Hopkins Homes site “was set aside for further housing in 1974”. In fact, the southward expansion of Hunstanton was consistently opposed by the town council until 2013, when a majority of councillors were apparently swayed by the ‘jobs’ argument and decided to support the Hopkins proposal ‘in principle’.

There are numerous Lynn News articles from the 1980’s and 90’s to disprove the notion that land west of Redgate Hill was ever considered suitable for a large housing estate. One of these relates to the refusal of an application to build just one house on a plot of land owned by the Huggins family, which would have had access to the A149 via the road already providing access from existing bungalows in this location.

Under the headline: “No let-up in homes row”, an article by Julie Cross on March 26 1993 records the fact that in Hunstanton there were 568 signatures on a petition and 30 letters of objection to proposed development of a four acre site off Manorfields.

Even those town councillors who performed a U-turn by supporting the Hopkins application in 2013 continue to express concern at the proposed access to the site via a roundabout on the A149. And since a ‘Travel Plan bond’ is one of the conditions imposed by the borough planning committee, it is difficult to see how this condition, together with ‘management arrangements for the habitats mitigation open space’, can be achieved unless the number of houses proposed for the site is drastically reduced and access to a much smaller sustainable development is provided via Searles leisure resort and not the A149 or Hunstanton Road, Heacham.

In 1993 Henry Bellingham MP objected to further development in Hunstanton and Heacham on the grounds that both settlements already had a large supply of property and there was a danger of each community losing its character. In a letter to a Manorfields resident dated September 2014, Henry made it very clear that he was still opposed to any large scale housing development on Redgate Hill, in spite of the fact that the town council seemed keen to see an increase in the town’s housing allocation.

He wrote: “I would not support a development of more than between 40 to 50 houses and certainly not one that was accessed through Harry’s Way or anywhere else on the Manorfields Estate. This would mean a much more modest development with different access.” He went on to say that at a meeting with the Searle family he had made it very clear that together with Borough and County Councillor, Richard Bird, he was not at all happy about them pursuing the application in advance of the Local Plan process.

In Henry’s opinion, Searles and Hopkins had decided to jump the gun by going for an application in advance of the Local Plan process. He believed that this was rather short sighted and definitely most unfair to other landowners and potential developers.

At a recent meeting with me, Sir Henry made it abundantly clear that he has not changed his position on the Hopkins application. By standing up for the residents in Heacham and Hunstanton most affected if the development goes ahead, he is 
championing the cause of ‘Localism’ in a manner that should persuade the borough council to refuse planning permission if every condition is not fulfilled within the allotted timescale.