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'Disaster' warning over second bid to build flats on Hunstanton car park

Revised proposals for dozens of flats on part of a Hunstanton car park have been branded a “disaster” by one of its borough councillors.

A West Norfolk Council proposal for more than 30 flats on the site in Southend Road was turned down by its own planning committee last December.

A new application, which officials say has addressed the main reasons for the refusal, is due to go before committee members next week.

Hunstanton's Southend Road car park.
Hunstanton's Southend Road car park.

But Independent councillor Paul Beal says members should learn from the loss of the town’s rail link and resist the loss of vital infrastructure.

In correspondence quoted in a report to the committee, he wrote: “I beg for the panel to take a lesson from British railway who took the railway away from the town which is now desperately trying to reinstate a line again.

“I’m not against development as it’s needed for the town to go forward but building on this car park would be a disaster and once it’s gone it’s gone forever.”

The key sticking point with the original application was the loss of public car parking provision, which critics said would equate to around 100 spaces.

New proposals have been drawn up to replace most of those spaces at other locations in the town.

Planning officials have advised the committee to approve the scheme, subject to the completion of legal agreements to secure affordable housing provision, or refuse it if such a deal is not done.

But they say the benefits of the proposal outweigh the “limited” harm of what is claimed to now be a net loss of just 16 parking spaces.

They added: “Whilst the summer season is a busy time for Hunstanton, on only bank holiday weeks, and particularly good weather weekends, are parking spaces needing to be sold more than once per day to meet parking demand.

“It is therefore considered that in any given year, the proposed loss of parking would have a negligible and largely un-noticeable effect on car parking and therefore the town’s tourism economy.”

But Mr Beal said: “No matter how many times an officer juggles the parking figures if this space is built on we will definitely lose 100 plus parking spaces.”

He also claimed it was “irrelevant” if more spaces were proposed elsewhere.

The town council has also opposed the application, while the area’s Civic Society has questioned the claimed economic benefits of the scheme.

They claim it fails to meet the requirements of a previous masterplan for the resort.

And they said: “This is a prime site and the town needs a development that will support the vision and be of considerable benefit to the town’s economy.

“However, if this application were to be approved, it is expected that many of the units will be bought as investments or second homes.

“They will therefore not make anything like the predicted contribution to the local economy, nor will they contribute to diversification of the local economy.”

The town council’s draft neighbourhood plan also proposes limitations on second homes, though the borough says little weight should be applied to that, as the plan has not been adopted as yet.

The committee meeting will take place next Monday, April 12, from 9.30am.

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