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Appeal hearing held on plans for 40 homes in West Norfolk village

Residents, developers and borough council officials met on Wednesday for an appeal hearing on plans to build 40 homes in Clenchwarton.

The hearing at Lynnsport was held after the proposals for the development at the Fosters Sports Ground were turned down by West Norfolk Council in the autumn of 2018.

At the start of the hearing, Inspector John Morrison said to the 30 residents in attendance: “The planning process is by its very nature nature emotive, so I would ask you to be mindful that you might hear things you don’t like the sound of.”

Former Fosters S&SC site at Clenchwarton. (28525619)
Former Fosters S&SC site at Clenchwarton. (28525619)

Mr Morrison quizzed the appellants, Elm Park Holdings Ltd, and the borough council planning officials on a number of topics, including two main issues.

These were: “whether the appeal site is an appropriate location for new housing having regard to the development plan and sustainable patterns of development”, and “whether the proposed development would be at an unacceptable risk of flooding”.

When the appellants were asked about services in the village, they spoke of the school, a grocery store and a Post Office, but Steve Bearshaw, chairman of the parish council, said children had been turned away from the school and added that there was no GP surgery in the village.

Natacha Osler, senior planner at the borough council, speaking on the topic of accessibility, said that the desirability of walking or cycling along certain routes, including Ferry Road where there is no footpath was “questionable”.

Richard Brown, for the appellants, argued that Clenchwarton is described in the council’s Local Development Plan, which is currently under review, as a “key rural service centre”.

“It says it is a sustainable settlement,” he said.

Mr Brown added that the proposals were an “extension” of the south field, where planning permission was granted in 2015 for 40 homes following a legal battle.

But resident Steven Brown said: “It’s in a high flood risk zone. At a time of national flood crisis, to carry on building houses on a high flood risk zone is ludicrous.”

He added: “It’s a flood risk disaster waiting to happen.”

The hearing was told that the Environment Agency had not raised objections, as they had considered that it could be made safe.

Mr Morrison was due to conduct a site visit later on conclude the hearing process.

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