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West Norfolk Council chiefs back move to scale down Parkway development scheme

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Council chiefs have today backed proposals to significantly scale back a controversial housing scheme in Gaywood, just weeks after it was approved.

The move follows a review of the Parkway project, which a report presented to this afternoon's West Norfolk Council cabinet meeting said "can no longer deliver the benefits originally envisaged."

The original scheme, which envisaged around 380 homes plus a road bridge linking the area to the Hardwick estate, was given the go-ahead in April.

Council chiefs have backed plans to scale back the proposed development of land off Parkway in Gaywood.
Council chiefs have backed plans to scale back the proposed development of land off Parkway in Gaywood.

But now a revised scheme is set to be drawn up without both the bridge element and the provision of homes on the eastern part of the site, which contains important areas of wildlife habitat.

Green Party councillor Michael de Whalley was among several opposition members to praise the change of heart.

He said: "I'd like to thank the council for reconsidering the proposal in light of the strong local response. It is definitely the correct thing to do.

Jo Rust said she was pleased to see the eastern part of the site would remain in its "natural state."

And fellow Independent member Sandra Squire asked whether an application could now be made for the eastern part of the site to be registered as a Norfolk Wildlife site in order to preserve it for the future.

But development portfolio holder Richard Blunt said he felt that was a matter for future discussion.

The proposals presented to today's meeting called for a new planning application to be brought forward covering just the western part of the land, which was allocated for future development in the council's 2016 site allocations.

However, officials indicated that a revised application may be sufficient, as permission for the earlier scheme has not yet been formally granted, because of the need for legal agreements to be reached.

That would also have allowed more time for campaigners who were planning legal action over the original planning decision to prepare their case, before the recent change of approach.

The meeting also heard that the council would seek to amend part of the £25 million Towns Fund deal which was announced last week in order to use funds previously allocated towards the bridge for projects promoting active travel options, such as cycling and walking.

Deputy leader Graham Middleton said: "We are talking to the government about whether we can change that."

Independent councillor Tom Ryves asked how much had been spent on developing the project to this point and what might happen as a result of the change of approach.

But council leader Stuart Dark said a financial study would come forward in due course.

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