Downham Market ‘can’t cope with planned new homes’, warns town council

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Community leaders in Downham have warned that the town cannot support plans for a major new housing development on its southern edge.

Proposals to build 170 homes to the east and south of Denver Hill will be debated by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee on Monday.

Officials have recommended that the outline bid, submitted by the Grosvenor Partnership, is approved subject to the completion of legal agreements.

But the town council believes that known weaknesses within Downham’s infrastructure should mean the bid is turned down.

Officers’ report to the committee said of the authority: “Members recommend refusal raising significant concerns regarding the capacity of the town to support such a large development in terms of its infrastructure and services.

“Concerns were also raised as to the well-known drainage issues associated with the site together with the expected numbers of vehicles accessing the A1122 southern bypass safely.”

The council also highlighted the initial objection of county highways officials over what it described as “inadequate” road safety measures.

But Norfolk County Council says that a mitigation plan drawn up following talks between its officers and the developer has addressed their concerns.

The plan includes a new roundabout to enable access to the site from the A1122, footpath improvements on London Road, a combined footpath and cycleway on Nightingale Lane and traffic calming measures in Ryston End.

However, members of the King’s Lynn Bicycle Users Group says the plans will still make the area less safe for cyclists, because of the revised layout of the cycle way at the crossing point on London Road.

And, among dozens of letters of objection to the scheme, some residents have said they are worried that the development will eventually lead to the nearby village of Denver being absorbed into the town.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has also withdrawn its initial objection, relating to plans for flood risk mitigation.

And planning officers said the site, which had been allocated for new housing within the borough council’s framework for future development, would make positive economic, social and environmental contributions to the area.

Their report concluded: “Whilst the proposed development is for 30 more dwellings than envisaged, it is clear that allocation numbers are minimum numbers.

“In this case, it is considered that the site can adequately accommodate 170 dwellings without material harm to the visual amenity of the locality, highway safety or neighbour amenity.”

If the committee supports the officers’ recommendations, the Grosvenor Partnership will then have until early November to complete the legal agreements required to secure planning consent.

The report also reveals that the developers will have to agree to pay more than £3,000 per multi-bedroom house and £1,500 per multi-bedroom flat towards the provision of new places at the town’s two primary schools.

A further £10,000 contribution is being sought towards IT facilities at Downham’s library.