Turnstone, by John Maiden, January 13, 2015

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Last week West Norfolk Council published its ‘Site allocations and development management policies pre-submission document’.

This title alone will probably be enough to deter many members of the public from reading beyond the first page, but I would urge everyone, especially those living in Hunstanton and Heacham, to read the pages dealing with their locality.

They will then have until 5 pm precisely on February 23, 2015, to make representations to the council about the ‘soundness’ of the document.

These representations will ultimately be considered by an inspector appointed by the secretary of state in conducting a public examination of the proposed local plan for west Norfolk.

My first impression of the document is that it clearly fails to meet the ‘soundness’ test, but I would be very interested in the opinions of other Lynn News readers, regardless of whether or not they agree with my verdict.

In particular, I would like to know how the proposed new development of 166 homes on land north of Hunstanton Road, Heacham, complies with the policy on page 41 of the document which states: “New development will not be permitted if it would include the provision of vehicle access leading directly on to a road forming part of the strategic road network.”

The A149 at Heacham is an integral part of the strategic road network, but the proposed vehicle access from all 166 homes would lead directly onto the A149 via a roundabout at the foot of Redgate Hill.

On the next page the council’s policy on disused railway tracks is stated as follows: “The council consider that the identified former railway routes could be a significant transport resource in the long term future, whether for recreational or alternative transport use.

“The proposed approach is to restrict development on identified former railway trackbeds. These will be kept intact which will enable them to be reused in future.”

This policy is reiterated on page 46 in these specific terms: “The following railway trackways and routes, as indicated on the Policies Map, will be safeguarded from development which would prejudice their potential use for paths, cycleways, bridleways, new rail facilities, etc.”

The former railway route between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton is included in this list!

This begs the following questions. Was this council policy in 2012 when Marstons obtained permission to build the Honeystone public house at Hunstanton, slap bang on the former trackbed?

If so, why was it ignored by the cabinet member responsible for regeneration?

Was he under the impression the trackbed ran to the west of the gatehouse cottage when, as the photograph above from 1969 clearly shows, the line ran to the east of this cottage?