Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was criticised in last week’s Turnstone for making nonsense of Localism by overruling Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse fracking.
Since then I have been reminded of a situation, much closer to home, in which a bad planning decision was taken by town councillors, not by a government minister. Referring to the Hopkins Homes development on Redgate Hill (Lynn News, October 7), Edward Wheatley wrote: “Our town council completely ignored the views of local residents, in that they failed to post a single objection to the whole dreadful scheme…”
Hard on the heels of this blunt assessment of Hunstanton Town Council’s obvious shortcomings, I read these comments on the same subject in an email from Sir Henry Bellingham MP: “Thank you for your recent email to me and Richard Bird regarding various Hunstanton issues, including Roland Worth’s picture of the missing fence at Harrys Way.
“Taking the first part of the letter, as you know you have my full and ongoing support for your noble quest to ensure that Henry le Strange’s vision for Hunstanton is secured. We discussed at great length the whole issue of The Green and surrounding buildings and I would certainly urge you to keep up the pressure.
“As far as the Hopkins Homes development is concerned, and as I am sure you are aware, I was personally opposed to it going on this part of the Searles site. If you recall, I pushed very hard for it to be located to the immediate south of their Holiday Park, so that access could be into the South End Road/Oasis Way roundabout. This obviously obviated any issue around access through the Manorfields Estate. Furthermore, it would have concentrated the development away from the main A149 at Redgate Hill.
“I was very surprised that the town council gave it the go ahead and of course once they had done this there was every likelihood of it going through the borough council. Anyway, we are where we are, but what an opportunity was missed, because if it had gone on the north part of the site, Searles would have got their development and we would have been able to protect what is an extremely special part of the local environment.”
Our MP was clearly in step with local public opinion on this issue, and WJ Blundell’s letter to the Lynn News (also on October 7) suggests Searles should be giving something back to Hunstanton, because the company has done very well over the years by being based in the town. His proposal is for Searles to meet the entire cost of a statue commemorating the town’s founder, Henry le Strange, which is currently being promoted by William Searle. Last week I made the case for Henry to be honoured for designating The Green as an area of public open space and for bringing the railway to Hunstanton in 1862, because these achievements owed more to his own personal attributes than to any hereditary title. It is for this reason that it would be totally inappropriate for the proposed statue to depict Henry in naval uniform as if this was his main claim to fame!
If the intention is to conjure up some kind of link between the town and seafaring, perhaps it is time to learn something from Thetford, where a statue of Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring celebrates the town’s association with ‘Dad’s Army’, as the fictional town of ‘Walmington-on-Sea’.
As a location it did not last as long, but in 1957, for the very last Ealing Comedy, ‘Barnacle Bill’, Hunstanton was ‘Sandcastle’; so why not have a statue of Sir Alec Guinness as Captain Ambrose, the seafaring owner of our fantastic pier?