Officials accused of 'fudge' over storage container proposal in East Walton
Proposals to allow the continuing siting of dozens of storage containers in a West Norfolk village have been rejected by councillors.
Opponents of the scheme in East Walton told a borough planning meeting yesterday that their community had endured a significant impact since the facilities were installed last year.
But supporters argued there was a clear need for the containers to be left in place.
A decision on the application, submitted by Westacre Estate Management, to site 38 containers on the Old Pheasantry site off Church Lane was initially deferred by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee in February.
However, members voted 10 to seven, with one abstention, to reject the proposal when they met at Lynn’s town hall on Monday.
The meeting was told that the containers had been in place on the site for the past 11 months.
And Bill Lewis, chairman of the East Walton village meeting, claimed floodlights were now being installed there.
He told members: “The amenity of the village has been considerably diminished.”
Ward councillor Michael de Whalley said there had also been a marked increase in traffic in the area and argued conditions proposed by officials could not be policed.
He said there had also been several serious collisions in the area, with the latest happening just two weeks ago.
Former council leader Brian Long proposed refusal, arguing the site was inappropriate for the development and additional traffic movements in the area should not be encouraged.
He highlighted an earlier application for a similar operation in West Acre which was refused and claimed similar considerations should apply in this case.
Chris Morley branded officials’ recommendation of approval as a “fudge”, adding: “The conclusion here is this shouldn’t be here in the first place. If it’s unsustainable in West Acre, it’s unsustainable in East Walton.”
But assistant planning director Stuart Ashworth said officers had put weight in their recommendation on the economic benefits of the scheme and the perceived lack of harm.
And Sandra Squire said it wasn’t sustainable to make local people and groups who already use the site travel elsewhere to access storage facilities.
The applicants said four of the containers are let to East Walton residents, with the local Montessori school, which counts Prince George among its former pupils, also using one.
Six are used by residents of West Acre, while four are let to people living in Castle Acre and others are used by businesses who regularly work on the estate, their case to the committee claimed.
Mrs Squire said: “There is clearly a need in this area. I don’t see the problem with it.
“Our countryside is changing. We can’t keep it forever as it is. It’s a rural business. People want these containers. Are we really saying we can only have farms in the countryside?”
Committee chairman Vivienne Spikings said users of the containers would also need to be given time to remove their equipment if the scheme was refused.