Turnstone, December 16, 2014: Local opinion should matter on Hunstanton planning applications

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It was good to read David Newman’s letter in last Friday’s Lynn News withdrawing his criticism of Hunstanton & District Civic Society over the proposed McCarthy & Stone apartment block in St Edmund’s Terrace.

Thanks to society chairman Andrew Murray, Mr Newman now has the strongly worded letter setting out the reasons for objecting to a development of this type in such a location.

The decision to grant planning permission was not taken in Lynn by the local planning authority, but in Bristol by the government’s planning inspectorate.

The continued use of this process is a clear indication that David Cameron has failed to deliver when it comes to “localism.”

Our local MP will almost certainly have been made aware of this fact by at least one borough councillor representing Hunstanton, but it seems extremely doubtful he will be able to persuade the government to call in a decision made by its own planning inspectorate.

This leaves the local community with no other course of action than the one advocated in Mr Newman’s letter. This would mean leaving West Norfolk Council in no doubt that the people of Hunstanton do not want to lose even a single space in the central car park to make it possible for McCarthy & Stone to erect their apartment block.

This will only achieve a positive outcome if it is backed by all local organisations including the chamber of trade and the town council.

Unfortunately, a majority of town councillors seem to believe that their opinions are of little consequence when it comes to the decision making process.

For example, the town council has thus far failed to comment on the revised application by Hopkins Homes.

This proposal will be considered by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee next February and, if approved, would include a new roundabout on the A149 at the foot of Redgate Hill.

If the town council does decide to support it, it would mean reversing its previous stance when faced with the possibility of a roundabout south of Heacham, which would have provided access to a housing development only slightly larger than the 166 new homes proposed by Hopkins Homes for land to the north of Heacham.

As recently as May last year the town council wrote a letter opposing such a roundabout in the strongest possible terms, describing it a a potential thrombosis.