King's Lynn housing plan risks 'annihilating nature', council meeting warned
Planning officials have been accused of "annihilating nature" by pushing forward proposals for hundreds of new homes in Gaywood.
Councillors are meeting now to discuss West Norfolk Council's bid to build nearly 380 new properties, plus a road link to the Hardwick industrial estate, on land off Parkway.
Members of the borough council's planning committee have been advised to approve the scheme, subject to the completion of legal agreements.
But more than 2,500 people have signed a petition against the scheme, which critics claim will destroy vital habitats.
Trudy Clark, speaking on behalf of the borough's Nature Volunteer Network, said reed beds which form part of the site were a "high conservation priority."
She added: "You can't claim enhanced green structures while obliterating 90 per cent of irreplaceable reed beds.
"I acknowledge the need for housing, but not by annihilating nature. You have other options."
But Peter Gidney, the authority's cabinet member for project delivery, claimed objectors had overlooked many of the positives of the scheme.
He said: "I believe sincerely that in 10 years' time there will be much better conditions for flora and fauna."
Paul Kunes, portfolio holder for climate change, also pointed out the objections made to other high profile schemes right across the borough.
He said: "We have to build somewhere. We have huge environmental mitigation in place. I beg of everyone to accept this application."
But Dr Pallavi Devulapalli said she wondered what the late Duke of Edinburgh would make of the scheme, given the experiences of the outdoors enjoyed by young people participating in the award scheme that bears his title.
She said: "The council has a duty to take measures to improve the health and wellbeing of residents in the borough which it cannot fulfil if it goes ahead with this proposal."
And Green Party councillor Michael de Whalley branded the proposed road bridge to the Hardwick a "folly" that would undermine the scheme's claims for promoting sustainable travel.
The meeting continues and can be viewed via the borough council's YouTube channel.