Hunstanton retirement village scheme approved by planning inspector

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A government planning inspector has approved controversial plans for a retirement village in Hunstanton.

Developers McCarthy and Stone appealed to the Planning Inspectorate against West Norfolk Council’s decision not to validate a revised plan for the Old Garage site on St Edmund’s Terrace in the resort.

And inspector Joanna Reid granted planning permission for the development in a 12 page ruling last week.

The decision was reached following a two day hearing last month and now allows for 32 Later Living apartments to be built on the land.

Borough council officials had argued that the application should be turned down, claiming the sole use of the site for residential purposes would harm the town centre.

They also claimed the scheme would not enhance or preserve the surrounding conservation area.

And an offer of just over £30,000 from the developer towards affordable housing provision was less than one tenth of what the authority was seeking.

But the inspector’s report quoted the conservation area character statement, which described the combination of the derelict site, the nearby bus station and the side of the Princess Theatre on the western side of St Edmund’s Terrace as “a visual disaster.”

She said: “The proposal would have a positive effect which would at least outweigh the negative effect of the vacant site.”

The report also said no retailers had looked into the possibility of a mixed use development on the land, undermining the council’s concern about a lack of retail space.

The inspector said: “There would seem to be little demand for smaller retail units.”

And the report said the developer’s offer of just over £30,000 towards the provision of affordable housing was a fair and reasonable one, given the scale of the proposed development.

The council had been looking for a £360,000 contribution, in order to provide six affordable homes away from the site.