Public inquiry set to open into Sculthorpe housing scheme

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A public inquiry on plans for a major housing scheme in a village near Fakenham is due to open today.

Developers claim their bid for up to 200 new homes in Sculthorpe should be allowed, because council chiefs have failed to develop sufficient homes in the area.

But planning officials insist the scheme would damage the area and their original decision to reject it should be upheld.

A government inspector will determine whether the application to develop land between Creake Road and Moor Lane should be given the go-ahead.

Amstel Group Corporation Ltd is seeking to build 71 new homes, plus play areas and access roads in an initial phase of work.

Up to 129 more homes are envisaged in the second phase, along with a new primary school and land for a community centre.

The firm claims North Norfolk District Council does not have an adequate five year supply of housing land and the need for homes is higher than what the authority is preparing for.

Its statement of case added: “The shortfall in housing provision is even more serious in Fakenham than within North Norfolk as a whole, given the minimal housing delivery over the past decade.”

But the council says the application, which was initially rejected in January last year, is on a site that is classed as open countryside.

The authority also claims the land is too far from local services and facilities and would damage the village’s conservation area.

Sue Arnold, the council’s cabinet member for planning said: “This is an important decision for North Norfolk.

“It is vital that the issues and concerns raised by local residents are fully taken into account at the inquiry and that the decision of the local planning authority, who are well placed to be able to understand what is best for their area, is upheld.”

The inquiry is taking place at the district council’s offices in Cromer and is expected to last for six days.