It is always good to get a mention of one of my topics on the letters page.
Last Friday, Emma Cook made the case against the proposed development of land south of Hunstanton to provide 166 dwellings in a mixture of houses, bungalows and three-storey apartments, pointing out that far more people are objecting on this occasion than in 2010, when less than 30 residents of Seagate Road persuaded the town council to withdraw its support for flats on the Kit Kat site, which remains undeveloped to this day.
Objectors to the Kit Kat development seemed to gain rather more sympathy from town councillors than those residents living over a much wider area, in Heacham as well as Hunstanton, who feel their quality of life will be adversely affected if the Hopkins Homes application is approved by West Norfolk Council’s planners.
The application by McCarthy & Stone to build an apartment block between the bus station and the Princess Theatre has been approved by a Planning Inspector without even getting as far as the planning committee.
This does not say much for David Cameron’s commitment to localism.
On the subject of localism, it would appear that another letter writer David Newman misunderstood the message I was trying to get across in the column on Tuesday, September 16.
The sign on Redgate Hill was put there at the request of the Civic Society as a reminder of the Victorian seaside town envisaged by its founder, Henry le Strange.
Henry’s son Hamon and his successors, right down to the present day, have done their best to ensure that any development on le Strange land blends in with the natural landscape and is in keeping with the architectural style, still clearly visible in the Victorian and Edwardian properties, regardless of whether we are looking at the Golden Lion or a terraced cottage.
Neither the le Strange Estate nor the Civic Society bears any resemblance to the Sicilian Mafiosi. However, I do believe in free speech, even when Mr Newman appears to imply that my opposition to 166 new dwellings is based on self interest, because the proposed vehicular access is via Hunstanton Road, Heacham!
This brings me to Simon Bower’s request that I should use this column to dissociate myself from a comment made at the meeting held at Smithdon High School, chaired by Andrew Murray, chairman and interim secretary of Hunstanton and District Civic Society, which enabled those in favour, as well as against the proposed development on Redgate Hill to express opinions.
Feelings were running high because of a feeling that the town council has stifled debate on the issues involved since a majority of councillors voted to support the development ‘in principle’ on August 7, 2013.
One member of the audience made a rather ambiguous remark, in which he appeared to compare Section 106 agreements (allowing councils to consider planning gains such as community centres and the like when considering planning applications), with “brown envelopes”.
I don’t think it was meant to imply any suggestion of personal gain rather an unhappiness with the planning system as it stands generally, which may or may not be considered a valid point. Without knowing exactly what point the questioner was intending to make, I can see no point in dissociating myself from it.
Anyhow, I am much more interested in why councillors were asked to vote on the proposal to build on land in August 2013, when the application is not determined until December 2014.