Neighbourhood plan ideas spark Hunstanton debate

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An open day was held at Hunstanton’s Community Centre on Saturday to discuss proposals for a neighbourhood plan for the town.

An exhibition set up for the event included analysis of questionnaires completed by residents, along with further public comments.

Visitors were encouraged to add their opinions on post it notes and many engaged in debate with the town councillors and volunteers who hosted the event.

Among the councillors there was former mayor Andrew Murray, who said: “I’m very happy with the turnout.

“There’s been a steady stream of people with people expressing their interest in many of the comments and suggestions on the displays.”

Mr Murray said the next task would be to formulate policies that reflect the views of local people and have meaning in terms of planning and development.

A draft neighbourhood plan will then be written and a further public open day will be arranged to obtain further feedback.

But local architect Stephen Sharp was impressed with what he saw and said it provided a “great opportunity” for debate.

He said: “Clearly lots of work has been done by lots of dedicated people who care passionately about the town and they should be congratulated.

“As a principle for new development, I think Hunstanton should restore what is good, but should also create a new style which is unique to Hunstanton.

“Rather than thinking all new development has to be a pastiche of the Victorian era, why not think what would the Victorians design if they had our modern construction methods, materials and way of life requirements.

“Most of the work I do is creating modern open plan living spaces or additions to traditional buildings.

“This can be achieved successfully and without destroying the character of the original building.”

But Mr Sharp was also keen to preserve some buildings for the future, such as Smithdon High School, which he described as one of the country’s best examples of the New Brutalist style of building.

He said: “This building inspired me as a pupil to go into the building design profession. If it is to fall into disrepair through neglect would be criminal.

“If one day lost, our future generations would look back in dismay that we allowed it to happen, just as we look at the loss of the Station Hotel.”