Hunstanton flats plans ‘can give young people chance’, meeting told
Plans to build dozens of flats across two sites in Hunstanton will provide opportunities for young people to either stay in or move to the resort, councillors have heard.
Proposals for 49 apartments, together with a new library, retail space and public toilets, on what is currently the town’s bus station were outlined last month.
At the same time, a separate application proposes 32 homes on what is currently the Southend Road car park.
No firm position was adopted on either scheme during a special town council meeting on Thursday, with members being asked to submit their final views by a Friday deadline.
But Mike Ruston told colleagues he was backing both schemes.
He said: “I’m not saying they’re perfect but on one hand we say we want housing, we want young people, we are too imbalanced.
“I want younger people to have what I had in my 20s – real opportunity.
“There are 81 homes on these two sites. It gives young people a start and I think it would be very wrong of us to say to the young people of this town sorry, you can’t have that.”
Town mayor Tony Bishopp said he was also minded to support the bus station scheme, arguing it would be an “improvement” overall.
He said: “There is no such thing as a perfect development. I just think that corner is a mess.”
But Wendy Croucher said she was worried that too much was being planned for the bus station site without sufficient parking space.
There was also a call for talks with Anglian Water about the extent of available sewerage capacity for the schemes.
And Andrew Murray questioned why existing buildings in Valentine Road or at the town’s former infant school were not being utilised as an alternative library.
However, Andrew Jamieson said it was felt the library needed to form a key part of the town centre’s offer and moving it to Valentine Road would be a “death knell” for it.
He also suggested that restricting traffic on the road past the site to buses only should be considered.
Wider concerns were raised about the proposal for the Southend Road site, which was once the town’s railway station.
Mrs Croucher warned the flats proposed would eventually become holiday homes and said the land was held “in trust for the community.”
She added: “Before anything else is said I think we all need to think very hard about whether it is best for the community.’
Former mayor Adrian Winnington said: “I am concerned about the scale of the project in comparison to the cottages opposite.
“I think they would be overbearing and out of character.
“I am also concerned about the loss of car parking.”
But Mr Jamieson said he was broadly in favour of the scheme, telling members: “A trip down that road is not showing Hunstanton in the best light and I think it will create a gateway.
“It uses a part of the town which is under-utilised at the moment.”
However, Robert Corby claimed the attempts to justify the scheme through the town’s draft neighbourhood plan ignored elements of the documents.
And Mr Murray said: “It’s being sold to us as regeneration but it’s not.”
The meeting heard the the town’s Civic Society was objecting to the Southend Road proposals, but had adopted a neutral position on the bus station plan.