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Councillors reject housing plan for Fairstead Surgery car park

Plans for private housing in a Lynn suburb have been refused by councillors on the grounds of “poor design and layout” as well as disrupting public parking and facilities.

A planning application for seven houses was proposed for the Centre Point car park in Fairstead, which is currently used by patients visiting the Fairstead Surgery and surrounding facilities.

During a West Norfolk Council planning committee meeting yesterday morning, the application was refused by 12 votes to five.

Fairstead Surgery
Fairstead Surgery

The land had been sold to the NHS by the council last year which was then sold on to a private developer.

Labour councillor Gary Howman, who represents the Fairstead ward, said there were at least 60 comments objecting to the application on the council’s website.

He told the meeting: “If it is successful, think of all the disruption this will cause during construction. It’s going to be absolute chaos.

“It is going to put people off coming to the shops and also users being able to get to the community centre.

“I hope this land is returned for community use and I am asking you to listen to the public and reject this ill-conceived application.”

Mr Howman added that the Fairstead Estate was designed for community housing rather than private development.

Issues were raised about the development during the meeting including the cycle storage having no cover, the small gardens, bin collection points and access for residents.

Margaret Wilkinson, who is also a Labour councillor for the Fairstead ward, said: “It would improve the present conversation if the doctor’s surgery had come about but this application is contrary as the public are losing a highly valued facility.

“The land in behind has been used as a car park by the general public.”

A planning officer told councillors an amended application had been put before the committee after addressing queries seeking clarification over land ownership.

Chairman of the planning committee Chris Crofts said there may be a “claw-back” for the NHS to regain ownership of the property.

He added: “I am a realist and I cannot see a strong reason to turn it down.”

However, Labour councillor Francis Bone said a report stating the car park is currently not being “particularly used” was wrong based on what he had seen when visiting the site.

Independent Terry Parish added: “This committee is meant to ensure any development is refused with regards to the impact of the community or it betters the impact on the community, but this worsens the condition of that community and harms it by removing a facility which has been useful for many years.”

And Labour’s Charles Joyce listed many reasons to refuse including a significant impact on amenities, poor design and layout,a lack of electric charging points, and potential restrictions on local businesses.

Mr Joyce recommended the application should be refused, which was seconded by Christine Hudson.

Stuart Ashworth, the council’s assistant director, agreed that the loss of parking was “definitely an issue”.

He also agreed with Mr Joyce raising the issue of poor design and layout as a problem with the application.

Speaking after the application was refused, Mr Howman said: “It was one those where it was hard to call how the committee will

“There were two very good reasons put forward in this case and the committee were swayed by the loss of facilities and the impact it would have.

“At the end of the day I am elected to represent the views of the residents so at the moment, I am pleased with the decision although it may not be the end of it.”

He added: “The applicant can appeal so I would personally like to see the land sold back to us. I think the NHS could have approached the council to see if we can buy the land back.

“The land was sold quietly at an auction and we did not know for months until this application came in.”

Mr Howman suggested King’s Reach would be better suited for housing.

And Mrs Wilkinson added the application would have caused problems for residents on Mulberry Road as well as staff at the Fairstead Surgery.

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