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Heacham caravan site expansion bid backed

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Plans to accommodate dozens more caravans at a West Norfolk holiday site have been backed by councillors this week, despite warnings from community leaders.

Questions were also raised about the timing of the debate on the proposed expansion of the Meadows Caravan Park in Heacham, only weeks before a referendum on the village's neighbourhood plan.

But West Norfolk Council's planning committee voted nine to six, with one abstention, in favour of the application during a meeting at Lynn Town Hall on Monday.

Heacham Village Sign. Photo: Mark Oakden.. (56602641)
Heacham Village Sign. Photo: Mark Oakden.. (56602641)

A total of 36 extra caravans are now set to be installed, which the site's owner, Mike McConnell, said would address a "shortage" of lodge accommodation in the area.

He also highlighted the contribution made by sites like Meadows towards the funds of a Community Interest Company (CIC) which helps to pay for flood defences along that section of the coast.

He said the CIC already had over £1 million available to contribute towards the next beach recharging scheme, which is expected to cost around £2 million to complete.

Borough council leader Stuart Dark, who represents the Heacham ward, told members: "It's a good application by a good business that is a good neighbour in Heacham."

However, his fellow ward member, opposition leader Terry Parish, said the scheme would offer "no significant advantage to the village".

The committee was also told that Heacham residents will vote on the village's proposed neighbourhood plan on June 16.

Tracy Raby, a member of the group which has drawn up the neighbourhood document, argued the scheme did not meet its guidelines or those of the council's own local plan.

And committee member Sandra Squire asked: "If this application had come forward after the Neighbourhood Plan had been voted on, would this recommendation [by officers to approve the application] have been different?"

Further concerns were raised about what parish council chairman Graham Reader described as a "dangerous" junction near the application site and increased traffic levels on the A149.

Committee member Chris Morley said: "I would suggest the tipping point has already been passed."

But the application was not opposed by county Highways officials.

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