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Fierce battle over 600 Knights Hill homes continues as heritage protection and affordable homes points raised

Developers of the 600 homes at Knights Hill have argued that more than 100 of those would be for “much needed” affordable housing.

A four-day public inquiry has taken place at the Knights Hill Hotel this week after applicants Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood appealed against West Norfolk Council’s decision to refuse the Grimston Road proposal in March.

Inspector Roisin Barrett will send a statement for the Secretary of State to consider after the inquiry concludes tomorrow.

A public inquiry is taking place at the Knights Hill Hotel
A public inquiry is taking place at the Knights Hill Hotel

When being cross-examined by Tim Leader of the council, representative for the applicants Paul Belton said 112 of the homes would be in line with affordable housing guidelines.

Speaking at the inquiry today, Mr Leader disputed that figure as well as highlighting the potential harm on heritage assets, namely Castle Rising Castle, the ruins of the Church of St. James at Bawsey and the castle lodge.

He said: “The single most important issue is whether it will affect heritage assets which are of the highest value.

Many local residents have attended the inquiry during the first three days this week
Many local residents have attended the inquiry during the first three days this week

“The greater the asset, the greater the weight to their preservation and any harm to the significance of an asset needs clear and convincing justification.

“You could avoid that harm by simply pulling the development to the south and to the west.”

On Wednesday, heritage consultant for the council, Dr Richard Hoggett had raised objections to a proposed screen of planting which he said would detract from the experience for those travelling from the edge of Lynn to Castle Rising.

But Gail Slotten, heritage witness for the appellants, claimed any potential harm to the assets would be minimal.

And today, Mr Belton was questioned by Mr Leader on whether proposed improvements to the junction at Grimston Road and Langley Road were in fact “mitigation” rather than a benefit.

Mr Belton responded: “The junction would mitigate the impact of development, but also two consented developments in the area as well.”

When asked on the time-scale for the development if it received the go-ahead, Mr Belton said 80 homes a year would be reasonable.

He also estimated 240 homes would be delivered after March 2023 through to the end of the planned period.

Mr Belton added that between 30 to 50 houses would be built per month after development was mooted to begin in March 2022.

North West Norfolk MP James Wild and Sir Henry Bellingham were amongst those stating their cases against the development on the first day of the inquiry.

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