Detail ‘withheld on King’s Lynn housing plan’, council meeting is told

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Key information about plans for major housing developments in North Lynn and Gaywood was withheld during a public consultation, a council committee has heard.

The claim was made at a meeting of West Norfolk Council’s cabinet scrutiny committee on Thursday evening, as it examined the authority’s plans to develop several sites in the Marsh Lane and Lynnsport areas.

But a call for a further public consultation exercise to be held on the revised project was defeated by six votes to four.

The scheme is now set to be debated at a full council meeting this Thursday.

A six-week consultation was held on the project during December and January, including two drop-in sessions held at Lynnsport itself.

But Marsh Lane estate resident Joy Franklin said she had felt “misled” when she later learned about aspects of the proposals which she claimed had not been made clear during the consultation period.

Among her concerns was a plan to build a new stretch of road joining the two parts of Marsh Lane, which she argues will create a link road into the Grange estate.

She was also unhappy that details of the number of houses proposed for each area had not been made clear.

And she added: “I feel there should be another opportunity for the public to examine and comment on the proposals as they currently stand.

“This is one major development the impacts of which will have far-reaching repercussions for our community. A short delay is not an unreasonable request.

“The basic information was available and should have been on the table for public view.”

Alistair Beales, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said he accepted some criticism over the way the consultation was handled, but insisted that the plans presented during that period were only “indicative” of what the authority wants to do.

He said full details could only be brought forward if planning applications are eventually submitted, adding: “I think there has been considerable consultation and there will be further.”

Mr Beales expressed the hope that residents and community groups will join a new engagement forum the council plans to set up on the project.

And he insisted that the changes the council has already made to the project, including the withdrawal of one site from development, showed it was not a “done deal.”

The meeting was also told that efforts were being made to provide a “long-term reassurance” that the site known as Lynnsport 2, which includes the River Lane playing fields and other open space, would be protected from development.

But committee vice-chairman Paul Foster called for the plan to be referred back to the cabinet ahead of a further public consultation exercise, arguing it was clear that the scheme now proposed was not what had been presented to the public.

Gary McGuinness backed the proposal, saying he was not convinced the level of detail known by the administration had been shared with the public.

But Kathy Mellish replied: “I cannot help but think it wouldn’t matter how many times you send this plan or any other out. You are never going to make everybody happy.”