On July 30, 2014, I sent the following email to Nick Daubney, who at the time was Leader of West Norfolk Council.
“When you visit the new terrace outside the Princess Theatre tomorrow, just imagine how much better The Green would look if it could be restored to its former glory and fully complied with conditions imposed on West Norfolk Council by a legally binding Covenant. Next year, Hunstanton will doubtless pay tribute to Bernard le Strange for his foresight in imposing the Covenant on July 20th 1955. The extract below, taken from the HLF [Heritage Lottery Fund] website, should persuade you that the town could celebrate this seventieth anniversary with a project that really would have the support of visitors to our town, as well as the local inhabitants who were the intended beneficiaries of the Covenant, but have been deprived of their heritage for far too long.”
The extract referred to above was taken from the ‘Parks for People’ initiative, intended to restore parks and gardens to their former glory.
Mr Daubney did not respond, but another recipient of my email came back to me later the same day. In a very brief email Alistair Beales, Cabinet member for Regeneration replied: “Dear John – I make no comment on your view of the covenant but will ask officers to look at the funding stream you mention to see if it could be of value.”
Well, as ‘Dear John’ letters go, this was not the ‘brush off’ I might have expected. Alistair’s refusal to take up my idea of celebrating the Covenant imposed by Bernard le Strange, by upholding it, was disappointing, but it was encouraging to learn that the HLF funding stream would be looked at by officers.
Two years have passed since this exchange of emails and, according to the report on page 9 of last Tuesday’s Lynn News, lottery money will now be used to restore The Green and adjacent areas in accordance with Henry le Strange’s vision for the layout of his new town. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line someone clearly decided not to restore The Green and esplanade gardens to their former glory - as envisaged by Henry and subsequently enshrined in the 1955 Covenant imposed by his successor, Bernard.
Sadly, until Cabinet members and officers accept the fact that steps must be taken to comply with the restrictions imposed by the carefully worded Covenant, the appearance of The Green will be dominated by a structure that is clearly prohibited, not only by the Covenant, but also because it fails to protect or enhance the character and appearance of the surrounding Conservation Area. Compared with attempts to cover up mistakes resulting in serious injury or loss of life, covering up mistakes made by planning officers, which led to the granting of permission for a ‘non-pier’, may seem trivial; but they still need to be identified and corrected before West Norfolk Council will attract sufficient funding to do a proper job of restoring The Green to its former glory.
The bandstand represents an attempt to bring back the Victorian character of The Green, but it simply emphasises the awfulness of the adjacent ‘hangar’.