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Councillors set to examine plans for redevelopment of former King's Lynn post office site

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Plans for a major redevelopment of Lynn’s former post office are due to be examined by councillors today.

Community and heritage groups have given a guarded welcome to proposals for the Baxters Plain site, which some have described as a “blight” on the town.

But concerns have been raised about viability and the lack of parking provision, despite developers insisting they want to provide a “car-free” scheme.

The King's Lynn Civic Society highlights the empty buildings around the town - the now empty main Post Office in Baxter's Plain.. (53226190)
The King's Lynn Civic Society highlights the empty buildings around the town - the now empty main Post Office in Baxter's Plain.. (53226190)

The current plan for the building, which has stood empty for nearly 15 years, would allow for a change of use to enable the development of a pub, wine bar and hot food takeaway at ground floor level.

Thirty flats are envisaged across the three storeys above, with a proposed third floor extension providing another four units.

The prospect of a new use for the building after so many years has already attracted cautious support from a number of town organisations, according to papers published on West Norfolk Council’s planning website.

In a letter to the authority, the St Margarets and St Nicholas Ward Forum chairman, Dr Julian Litten, said “The building occupies a prominent position in the town centre and has, for too long, lain locked and unused and a blight on the surrounding area.

Meanwhile, the Lynn Civic Society said it had been “frustrating” to see the building derelict for so long.

Its planning secretary, Helen Russell Johnson, said: “We feel regeneration of this part of the town centre is exceptionally important for the future vitality of Lynn in general – and a sustainable new use for the post office building will play an essential part in that.”

But she also warned the society was “increasingly concerned” about the number of small flats being offered in new developments.

She added: “These ones appear to be proposed over a potentially large pub or restaurant – so it may not be a quiet neighbourhood and we would think would make the flats less attractive. In general,

“We are concerned about the viability of the proposals.”

And the Bridge and All Saints Street Association says it is “extremely concerned” at the lack of car parking provision within the development, arguing residents of other schemes already “regularly use our streets as a free car park”.

Secretary Tessa Mountain said options such as free residents’ parking at pay and display sites or ground level parking such as that offered for flats on the South Quay, should be considered.

Her letter said the aim of creating a car-free zone in the town centre was “laudible”.

But she went on: “The need for parking will still exist and rather than pushing the problem out onto our streets, proper provision should be made.”

However, the developers insist their proposals will deliver “multiple benefits” if planning permission is granted.

Documents prepared on behalf of Devrim Enterprises Ltd and submitted to the borough council claimed the proposal would provide an “efficient and effective use of an underutilised building”.

They argue that not providing on-site parking is in line with policy aims to reduce reliance on the car.

The papers added: “The town centre location and proximity to amenities and public transport makes it wellsuited to living a car-free lifestyle.

“For those residents that choose to own a vehicle there are several long-stay surface car park opportunities within walking distance where an annual season ticket can be purchased.”

The application is due to be discussed at a meeting of West Norfolk Council’s Lynn area consultative committee planning sub-group in Lynn’s Town Hall this afternoon.

The group does not have the power to approve or reject the application and will consider it in the same capacity as a parish authority in other parts of the borough. It can make recommendations ahead of a final decision being taken.

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