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Parkway development in Gaywood can go ahead says Government

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The Government has confirmed that 226 homes in Lynn can go ahead without its intervention, in a blow to campaigners who had hoped to stop the project in its tracks.

West Norfolk Borough Council had in February received permission from its own planning committee for the development on land off Parkway in Gaywood.

But a local resident, Christine Merry, who had been leading a campaign against the project, had already sent a letter to the prime minister and housing secretary Michael Gove, requesting that any permission given by the council be looked at first by the government.

Protest meeting at the proposed New Housing Development for the Gaywood Area...Land next to King's Lynn Academy Site on Queen Mary Road/Parkway Gaywood. (55686588)
Protest meeting at the proposed New Housing Development for the Gaywood Area...Land next to King's Lynn Academy Site on Queen Mary Road/Parkway Gaywood. (55686588)

At the end of the February meeting, an email was read out from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), asking that final sign-off for the scheme be delayed until they had considered whether to refer the scheme to Mr Gove.

If they had decided to do so, Mr Gove would have had the power to potentially block it from going ahead.

But in a new email published this week, a DLUHC official said the department had decided not to call in the decision.

Protest meeting at the proposed New Housing Development for the Gaywood Area...Land next to King's Lynn Academy Site on Queen Mary Road/Parkway Gaywood..James Evans from Wheels Media. (55686574)
Protest meeting at the proposed New Housing Development for the Gaywood Area...Land next to King's Lynn Academy Site on Queen Mary Road/Parkway Gaywood..James Evans from Wheels Media. (55686574)

Local Liberal Democrat county councillor Rob Colwell said: “I’m really upset about it, because the reality of the situation is, local people will now be thinking ‘our local borough council aren’t listening to our legitimate concerns, now the government under Michael Gove’s department aren’t listening to our concerns’, and they’re going to feel, as I feel, ignored.”

He added: “Gaywood clock is a pinch-point as it is for traffic and congestion, and unfortunately the decision that’s been reiterated today is going to have a knock-on effect for the whole of King’s Lynn… It’s a sad day.”

Traffic was not the only issue raised at the February, with other concerns ranging from trees being cut down, pollution, flooding and the homes’ affordability.

Council officials insisted the scheme met all of the borough’s policies on those concerns – and would even “enhance the quality of life” for existing residents.

Several councillors spoke positively about the scheme, with Conservative Elizabeth Nockolds saying: “How can we talk about traffic when people need homes? We’ve got a huge waiting list of people who need homes.”

A borough council spokeswoman said a decision notice officially approving the homes is now expected to be issued.

West Norfolk Borough Council had originally proposed a significantly larger development of 379 homes on the land, which at one time served as the playing fields for the College of West Anglia (CWA).

That scheme included 220 properties on former playing fields on the western area of the site and 159 on the eastern side, with a new bridge across the railway line serving the sand quarries at Leziate.

But a petition against that proposal garnered some 3,500 signatures. Many objected to the loss of trees and wildlife habitat, including broadcaster Stephen Fry, who is himself a CWA alum.

The council nevertheless granted permission for that version of the plan, before deciding not to go ahead with it, and scaling the project down to 226 homes.

Stuart Dark MBE, leader of the council, said: “This is an excellent scheme that delivers on many levels – addressing housing needs, affordability, sustainability and the highest environmental standards.

“By developing the site ourselves we have put together a scheme that shows what can be done in West Norfolk. We’re investing £1.7m in environmental measures that go above and beyond what is currently required so we can deliver some of the greenest homes ever built in the borough.

“It’s also close to almost all of the amenities King’s Lynn has to offer and that makes it a really sustainable site.

“We have listened to what local people told us about the original plan and have come up with a different approach. The new scheme covers a smaller area and we will invest in and improve on green space that would previously have been built on.

“I’m delighted this well-balanced scheme has got the go-ahead.”

The Parkway site has been identified as suitable for development for many years and was formally allocated in the Local Plan in 2016.*

It is a sustainable site because of its proximity to key amenities, including schools, shops, the hospital and Lynnsport. Additional measures will minimise car use on the development. These will include providing cycle stores for properties, enhancing green routes to amenities and schemes to promote take up of public transport.

The development itself includes 226 homes of sizes varying from 1-4 bedrooms, along with green space, landscaping and infrastructure. 15% (34) of the new homes will be affordable homes and 70 per cent of those (24) will be for affordable rent.

The adjacent 4.7Ha site, which was included for development in the previous application, is now planned to become a wildlife site. Further to consultation with Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the council's trees office, a draft enhancement plan has been prepared that will provide a biodiversity net gain for the site of more than 15 per cent.

Richard Blunt, cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: “This is an excellent, high-quality scheme that will help to address the housing shortage in the borough.

“It is an exciting location where we can build not only homes but a community – somewhere people can live and play that is also close to amenities and a variety of jobs.

“It is a prime example of good development and exactly the kind of project we should be doing in this borough.”

Paul Kunes, cabinet member for the environment, added: “The homes at Parkway will boast a range of the latest eco features, including air-source heat pumps, underfloor heating and infrastructure for EV charging points. Many will also have solar panels fitted, and flood resilience and resistance are designed in.

“Work to enhance the environment around the site will lead to biodiversity improvements in the vicinity and we have made a commitment to plant at least three trees for every one that is removed.

“The town centre is a 15-minute walk away, even less by bike, and reached mostly on attractive, tree-lined paths. All of this reduces the need for people to get in their cars.

“This fits well with our commitment to combat climate change.”

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