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Controversial Hunstanton car park flats proposal approved by councillors

A fresh bid to build dozens of new apartments on part of a Hunstanton car park has been approved today.

Objectors to the proposed development of the site on Southend Road claimed concerns which had led to an earlier refusal of planning consent had still not been resolved.

But members of West Norfolk Council's planning committee voted 11 to four, with two abstentions, to approve the application, which the authority itself had lodged, when they met at Lynn's town hall.

Southend Road, Hunstanton, car park. (46011881)
Southend Road, Hunstanton, car park. (46011881)

The decision comes after two previous bids to develop the site failed to proceed.

One application was rejected last December, while a decision on a second was deferred last month.

And concerns have previously been raised about borough council members sitting in judgment on an application proposed by the authority itself.

That prompted independent group leader Terry Parish to urge members to be "applicant blind" in their deliberations.

Ahead of today's meeting, officials pledged to impose a covenant on each of the 32 homes proposed, preventing them from being used except as the primary residence of the buyer.

Hunstanton town councillor Andrew Murray said the proposed measure was a step in the right direction, but that it "appears half-hearted."

He went on: "It needs to be robust, monitored and enforced."

Committee members also raised questions about how long the covenant was meant to be enforced for and whether it might reduce the value of the properties when they come to be sold.

Meanwhile, Mr Parish called for similar restrictions to be put in place for all borough council-proposed developments.

Mr Murray also claimed that the reasons for the December refusal had not been fully resolved and the new scheme should also be rejected for consistency.

But officer Dale Gagen told members: "We believe we have met the challenge you set us."

And project delivery portfolio holder Peter Gidney added: "This proposal is the result of much hard work and could be something very special."

One of the main points of controversy about the application is the impact on car parking provision in the town.

One of its ward councillors, Paul Beal, wrote in late correspondence: "I am saddened to hear the Borough Council are still pushing to build onto Hunstanton's busiest car park even though the business community is fervently against it."

He claimed the car park had been full for most of the day on April 25, although officials presented charts and CCTV pictures disputing that claim.

Meanwhile Mr Murray said that an area of the nearby coach park, which the application earmarked as a partial replacement for the lost spaces, had been mostly filled with motorhomes in recent days.

But committee chairman Carol Bower, who is the town's other ward councillor, said she had been "encouraged" by the revisions made to the scheme over recent months.

She added: "It will provide more all year round residents and economic activity, which our businesses need."

Although the meeting was held in person at Lynn Town Hall, the proceedings were also streamed via YouTube.

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