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Controversial plan for village homes narrowly approved

After a split vote, the chairman of the borough council’s Planning Committee ensured a controversial application for 117 new homes in Emneth was finalised.

An outline planning application for the dwellings near Elm High Road had been approved four years ago by the committee.

Chairman Vivienne Spikings had the final say on the application after six councillors voted in support and six against the application.

She said it would be a costly process to go against the initial decision to approve the application, despite admitting there were issues over access and traffic congestion for residents near the site.

"We all know this was a site with problems but there is a five-year land issue and Highways supported it.

"Sadly it did pass so there is now no point glossing over it.

"I want it deliverable. We have to look at what is in front of us and make decisions on where we are at, and I agree, it's one of the worst."

Vivienne Spikings, Planning Committe chairman
Vivienne Spikings, Planning Committe chairman

There were plenty of concerns raised during the meeting in King's Lynn on Monday morning.

The impact of access for residents of Hunters Rowe was considered at length during the meeting, as it was when the outline permission was passed.

Councillor Elizabeth Watson said it is the first time she has ever felt so "frustrated" and "ineffectual" over an application, even apologising to residents in attendance at the meeting.

"I am frustrated and disappointed it has come to this. I really feel this is the wrong thing to do," she said.

Councillor Chris Crofts, whose ward is Emneth, said he has had plenty of people approaching him about their objections to the site.

The chief concern was regarding congestion for those in the village.

He said he regularly uses Elm High Road where traffic is regularly "jammed" between 7.30am and 9.15am, as well as between 4.15pm and 6pm.

Mr Crofts said: "People living on this site will have major problems. This is not good.

"We gave this outline planning permission even though four of us in this room now were against it at the time.

"The only thing that appeals is the sustainability of it and it squeezed through by the skin of its teeth.

"The county council accepted a traffic survey which was done by the agents for the site acting for the landowners. This is just unbelievable.

"For each of the 117 properties, there will be eight traffic movements per day. I do not think we should propose this.

"We passed it four years ago and there is more and more traffic now then there was then.

"If we go down this road, I think it will be a disaster."

The site mainly comprises bungalows to the west, north and east of the development with a mix of bungalows and two storey semi-detached dwellings.

The main access point is via Hunters Rowe with two pedestrian and cycle paths provided from Elm High Road.

General view of Hunters Rowe
General view of Hunters Rowe

Emneth resident Michael Hodgkins told the committee the new site would "exacerbate" existing traffic problems.

He said: "For the last eight years or more I have tried to warn the council of the inadequacies of a new road.

"Access for ambulance and fire services will be disrupted. We have had to live with the decision for the last few years.

"Hunters Rowe should be a pleasant place to live. We will be forced to live our lives against our will over a building site."

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