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Hunstanton homes plan rejected as fears over lost parking and strain on business

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West Norfolk Council's plans to build dozens of new homes in a seaside town have been rejected as concerns were raised over the loss of public car park spaces.

Members of the authority's planning committee rejected the application to build 32 flats on land adjacent to Southend Road and Beach Terrace Road in Hunstanton by nine votes to six this morning.

The proposal would have resulted in the loss of 100 parking spaces on the Southend Car Park, reducing the overall total to 395.

Councillors expressed concern over the strain on local businesses if car parking spaces were removed from the Southend Car Park for housing
Councillors expressed concern over the strain on local businesses if car parking spaces were removed from the Southend Car Park for housing

Whilst it was generally accepted the proposed buildings would modernise the town in accordance with the borough council's redevelopment strategy for the town, councillors criticised the loss of parking.

Carol Bower, who represents the Hunstanton ward, said suggestions for an alternative car park on the Cliff Top would be too far for people visiting the town centre to walk.

Councillor Sandra Squire said the loss of 100 parking spaces would put people off from visiting the town's attractions, while councillor Christine Hudson feared the new homes could be turned into holiday homes and second homes rather than benefitting local residents.

The Southend Car Park in Hunstanton on a busy summer day
The Southend Car Park in Hunstanton on a busy summer day

Mrs Hudson added that there had already been a "tremendous amount of development" in the town including at the bus shelter and Kit Kat sites.

Speaking on behalf of Hunstanton Town Council and the Civic Society, Andrew Murray told the meeting that the application did not fulfil any of the criteria within the Hunstanton Town Centre and Southern Seafront Masterplan.

This criteria included making the town an attractive seaside destination and an active town which expands the existing water sports and activities offer.

Mr Murray added: "There is a perception the borough uses Hunstanton as a cashcow and will do whatever it wishes. I would hope that perception is wrong and would request that this current application is refused."

But planning consultant David Jones said: "The existing car parking area and boundary do not contribute to the conservation area at the moment so this application will enhance the setting of the conservation area by removing the wall.

"The plans will incorporate elements of historic design and some more contemporary materials."

Planning officers also stated there would be six affordable units as part of the scheme with undercroft parking and 33 parking spaces in the central courtyard of the site. Cycle storage and electric charging points were also included in the application which was recommended for approval.

They argued the loss of 100 spaces on the southern side of the public car park would be mitigated by 1,500 existing spaces in Hunstanton and a further 1,500 in Old Hunstanton.

Councillor Vivienne Spikings argued: "Sometimes you have to embrace change. I know the parking spaces would be taken away but there may be more spaces in the future. The Cliff Top is a red herring in my opinion and is too far but I think this is a change for the better."

Such views were shared by councillor Sam Sandell who said: "Looking at what we are putting in: affordable housing, pepper-potting, electric charging points; I like the materials being used which will fit into the area brilliantly and I like the fact local people will get the chance to buy first."

But others were against the application including councillor Charles Joyce who pointed out there was no condition on reducing potential crime and stated the loss of parking would place a strain on local businesses and residents.

He also questioned the lack of disabled parking spaces and described the provision in Hunstanton as a whole as being "shameful".

Before the vote, Mrs Bower, who was filling in as temporary chairman for Chris Crofts due to technical issues, said: "This is a very difficult one because the actual development looks very, very good and would fit in with the style of Hunstanton.

"It would give affordable housing priority to local people so I can see the plus points but, as we have debated time and time again, it comes down to parking."

One councillor abstained as the application was voted down by committee members.

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