Developer faces £450,000 bill to secure backing for controversial Hunstanton homes plan

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Developers will have to pay almost £450,000 towards the costs of merging two Hunstanton schools if their controversial housing scheme is given the go-ahead.

The bill has been outlined in a report to the West Norfolk Council planning committee, which will debate the proposal for 166 homes on the southern edge of the town on Monday.

Members have been urged to approve the scheme, as long as legal agreements are completed by early February, or reject it if they are not.

Case officer David Parkin said: “The harm caused by the development would not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

But, to do that, developers Hopkins Homes will have to agree to meet the costs set out by Norfolk County Council officers.

A report to the planning committee said the county authority was seeking £442,472 towards the cost of merging the Redgate Infant and Hunstanton Junior Schools into a single primary school.

The schools formally merged at the start of the current academic year last month, with pupils in the infant year moving to the junior school site in Collingwood Road.

But the county council says the figure is based upon the projected future demand for school places from the population of the development if it is approved.

Another £10,000 is being sought to help pay for improved library provision in the area.

And the scheme is also one of the first to be affected by the council’s decision to introduce a £50 levy on new housing in the borough as part of its long-term development plan, to help fund green infrastructure projects.

More than two years have now passed since proposals to build homes on the site, which lies to the south-west of Redgate Hill, were made public.

Opponents’ main concerns include the reduction of the open space dividing Hunstanton from Heacham and the access to the site, via a new roundabout close to the current junction of the A149 and Hunstanton Road, Heacham.

The applicants have insisted that their landscaping strategy respects the area’s character, while their proposed access addresses concerns about the potential for additional traffic on neighbouring estates.

But Heacham parish council, which objects to the scheme, said: “Mitigation will do nothing to disguise the fact that open hillside has been turned into a housing estate.”

The parish authority also fears additional traffic using the village’s roads, while other objectors have warned of increased delays and greater safety risks both in Heacham and on the A149.

However, county highways officials say they have no objection to the plan, subject to a suitable travel plan being submitted.

Mr Parkin said the development also had to be seen as sustainable under national planning guidelines after a High Court judge ruled in July that the council did not have an adequate supply of housing land.