‘Common sense’ call in Castle Acre housing debate

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A West Norfolk councillor has called for “common sense” on the assessment of housing schemes amid warnings that one may harm views from a village church tower.

The claim was made by Natural England over proposals for up to 15 homes on Massingham Road, Castle Acre, which went before the borough council’s planning committee on Monday.

Officials from the organisation said the proposed development would harm views from the tower of the village’s St James Church, but stopped short of objecting to the scheme.

And David Parkin, the council’s principal planner said: “Heritage England rarely object.

“What they will say is it will cause harm and they leave it to us to say whether the harm can be set aside.”

But that view drew short shrift from committee member Martin Storey, who asked: “How many people are going to go up the tower to look at these views?

“Are we talking common sense or are we talking about taking planning decisions from a church tower?”

Members voted unanimously to approve the application for full consent for four new properties and outline permission for 11 more.

However, the committee also imposed conditions requiring hedges around the site to be protected.

Neighbouring resident Bill Welch, who objected to the proposal called for the protection, which was also sought by the village’s parish council.

He also asked for full details of the additional 11 homes proposed for the area to be provided by the applicants, the Holkham Estate and Grange Developments.

And committee member Tony White questioned why the current scheme was being recommended for approval, while previous applications for the site had not been supported.

But officials said that recommendation was based on the indicative layout put forward by the applicants for the outline part of the application.

They said that information was sufficient for them to propose approval.

James Bracey, planning permission grant manager for the Holkham Estate, said they had worked with the parish council, who had not voiced an objection, in developing its proposals.

He said there was also “awareness” of the need to work with the community as the scheme continues.