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Final day of 'emotive' Knights Hill housing inquiry




Final arguments for and against controversial plans to build 600 homes at a medieval castle were heard at an “emotive” inquiry.

West Norfolk Council rejected developers Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood’s vision to build on land west of Knights Hill Village, outside South Wootton, near Lynn, in March.

The developers appealed the decision, prompting a four-day planning inquiry into the scheme.

A public enquiry was held about the proposed housing at Knights Hill.. (26974209)
A public enquiry was held about the proposed housing at Knights Hill.. (26974209)

And today the developer and the council had their final chance to put their cases to the government’s inspector, Roisin Barrett, who will make a recommendation to the secretary of state ahead of his decision on the appeal outcome.

Tim Leader, on behalf of the council, told the inquiry harm could be avoided to the “striking, isolated location” by moving the development further back.

“The castle was designed to facilitate views,” he said. “The development would sever the lodge from its local context.

Proposed areas for the development of 600 houses near Knights Hill.. (26974215)
Proposed areas for the development of 600 houses near Knights Hill.. (26974215)

And Mr Leader described the developer’s claim that the scheme would “help solve some sort of crisis in the delivery of affordable housing” as “nonsense”.

He told the inquiry the developer had measured the need for affordable housing incorrectly.

“The problem is a serious one but the treatment of it has been entirely superficial,” he added.

“The existing proposals are simply not good enough. It is insensitive, it should be rejected and it should be reworked.”

Proposed areas for the development of 600 houses near Knights Hill.. (26974215)
Proposed areas for the development of 600 houses near Knights Hill.. (26974215)

Antony Crean QC, on behalf of the developer, said: “The central question is whether the proposals are in line with the local plan. It is important this site comes forward for housing development as soon as possible.”

He told the inquiry the life chances of children who do not have a home to live in were worse than their peers, and said: “They suffer more illness and injury, their educational attainment is lower, they’re more likely to commit crimes and more likely to have mental health problems.

“It is unacceptable that any right thinking persons should not want to address this issue as a matter of the highest priority.”

And he said harm caused by the development was minimal.

After the inquiry closed at 11.20am, Ms Barrett thanked the council, advocates and the public for participating in what she called an “emotive” process.

The deadline for her report to be submitted to the secretary of state for housing is Saturday, April 4.


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