Commercial development green-lighted at Brancaster despite Historic England misgivings
New shops and eateries on the land of a former Roman fort are set to be built, after councillors voted to ignore warnings from Historic England about granting planning permission.
The new one-storey building will go up on land at Saxon Field, off the main A149 at Brancaster, in an area once occupied by the Branodunum settlement.
The U-shaped structure would comprise 12 units, including two cafe/restaurants, four shop spaces, three office spaces and three artisanal workshops.
Historic England had warned the scheme would have “a direct and adverse impact on any archaeological remains present” but at a meeting on Wednesday, July 20, members of West Norfolk Council’s planning committee voted near-unanimously to approve it.
In a presentation to the committee, applicant Tom de Winton - who is chairman of the parish council - pointed out that a number of homes had already been built on land covered by “scheduled monument” of the fort.
Archaeological digs carried out ahead of those housing developments being built had, he said, found no conclusive evidence of Roman activity in the area where he hoped to build.
And he raised the importance of visitors to Norfolk’s economy, saying “tourists are our new harvest”.
Terry Parish, the council’s independent opposition leader, suggested permission should be granted, saying: “This is a piece of ground with something or nothing underneath it, and the evidence presented suggests that on this bit of ground, there’s nothing underneath it…
“If you balance up whether there’s greater public benefit to providing employment opportunities against possible harm to stone under the ground, which is probably not there, I would suggest that the best public benefit is to provide those opportunities to local people to get employment.”
He was joined by Conservative councillor Elizabeth Nockolds, who said: “As we all know, tourism is so important to our area and we need places for people to stop and visit in Brancaster, otherwise they’ll either go to Thornham or Burnham Deepdale.
“So I think this is a really good opportunity – at first, I thought that road is really busy, but the highways authority has no objection [to the scheme].
“We have good public transport through to that area, which might encourage more people perhaps to visit the site.”
The committee voted by 14 in favour, with just one against.