Fakenham car park U-turn signalled by district council

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A Fakenham car park, which has been the subject of plans to sell it for housing, is set to be retained following a U-turn by council chiefs.

New proposals, which were published on Friday, would also see £75,000 spent on improvements to the Highfield Road facility.

But drivers could still end up paying the price, as the scheme includes a plan to introduce charges to the currently free site.

The change of heart from North Norfolk District Council follows a consultation exercise and fierce opposition from both town councillors and residents.

Judy Oliver, district council cabinet member for assets and commercialisation, said: “We have listened to the people of Fakenham and we have attached a great deal of weight to the representations put forward by the Town Council which were evidenced based and persuasive.

“I hope people will see that it’s always worth responding to consultations and we do take very seriously residents’ views as we try to make decisions in the best interests of our taxpayers.”

The new proposals, which will be presented to a cabinet meeting next Monday, October 30, call for the car park to be retained but for a charging regime to be introduced, which they hope will be in place by next April.

The report suggests usage would be charged at the authority’s standard rates of £1 for the first two hours and 70 pence for any additional hour, or £5 for 24 hours.

But the plan to fund improvements to the site would still have to be ratified by full council even if the cabinet decides to back it.

There were more than 200 responses to a recent consultation on the car park’s future.

One of the main concerns related to a perceived lack of available parking in the northern part of the town and the fear that situation may worsen as a result of future housing developments in the area.

Ward councillors Roy Reynolds and Annie Claussen-Reynolds have welcomed the new plan.

In a joint statement, they said: “We are pleased so many people completed the survey and once it was clear that the majority wanted to keep the car park this gave us a steer.

“We have requested that the toilets are refurbished, and, also, a couple of coach places are provided.”

Mrs Oliver said she hoped the provision of coach parking could be discussed through a joint working party set up by the town and district authorities.