Hunstanton homes plan parking loss 'negligible', council officials claim
Plans to build dozens of flats on part of a Hunstanton car park would have a "negligible and largely unnoticeable" impact on capacity, officials have claimed.
Members of West Norfolk Council's planning committee have been advised to back the proposed development at the Southend Road site, subject to the completion of legal agreements, when they meet next week.
But many local representatives are opposing the proposal, which some of them say could cause an "environmental disaster."
The borough council is itself seeking planning permission to build 32 flats on the southern part of the existing car park, plus cycle storage facilities, infrastructure and an access point.
A report published ahead of the committee meeting, which takes place next Monday, recommended approval, subject to legal agreements being completed by early April of next year.
But critics argue the town cannot afford to lose the public parking provision which the site currently provides.
In his submission, which has been published in the report, ward councillor Paul Beal said the town's destiny was being placed in the control of the Le Strange estate, which owns the Cliff Top car park and increased the rent it charges to the council by 500 per cent a couple of years ago.
He added: "Car parking space is a lifeline to the tourist industry of this town. Once this huge space is built on it's lost parking forever."
Mr Beal's concerns were echoed by the town council, which argued that the development would lead to the loss of more than 120 parking spaces if it is approved.
But borough council officials said the authority would not be pursuing the scheme if it was felt to put the revenues generated from parking charges at risk.
They say there were only nine days in the whole of 2019 when more parking tickets were sold in the town than there was parking capacity.
They added: "It is therefore considered that in any given year, the proposed loss of parking would have a negligible and largely unnoticeable effect on car parking and, therefore, the town’s tourism economy."
Opponents are also concerned about the proposed homes being unaffordable for local residents and the potential for environmental damage caused by the increased demand on the local sewage system.
The town council, several of whose members raised concerns during a meeting in July, said the need for improvements had been identified as early as 2014 and the geology of the site meant waste water would have to be pumped away from the site.
It added: "This has to be taken into consideration on all new developments as we could be faced with an environmental disaster, affecting the beach and sea and wildlife.
"Needless to say this would also be extremely damaging to the tourism heart of the town."
But the borough council says Anglian Water has assured them there is sufficient capacity to cope with the additional demand.