Redevelopment of 'eyesore' Hunstanton site passed despite cladding and design warnings
Plans to build shops and flats on the site of a former Hunstanton nightspot that has been empty for nearly 20 years have been given the go-ahead.
Fire safety, design and parking were among the concerns raised over the development of the old Kit Kat site on Seagate Road.
But West Norfolk Council’s planning committee voted 11 to six to approve plans for three retail units and 16 flats in a six-storey building during a meeting on Monday.
Committee chairman Chris Crofts said: “This is something that is crying out for development and I see nothing wrong with what is being proposed.”
Vice-chairman Carol Bower, who is one of the resort’s ward councillors, added: “At the moment, the site is an eyesore. People have been thinking about what could be put there for years.
“This could be a focal point, the start for the new, modern part of Hunstanton on the southern seafront.”
Earlier in the meeting, Ian Reilly, agent for the applicants, Greater Manchester Prop 1 Ltd, said approval of the scheme could act as a catalyst for broader development of the promenade area in line with the vision currently being developed by Hemingway Design.
He said the applicants proposed to begin work on the site at the earliest opportunity and argued the scheme would offer “significant” benefits.
Town councillor Andrew Murray, who also spoke on behalf of the area’s Civic Society, said there was agreement that the site should be developed, but argued that the current proposal “differed significantly” from an earlier scheme that was approved by the authority in 2011.
He said the proposed building was too high and did not offer sufficient car parking space for residents.
He also claimed the developers had failed to conduct proper public consultations on their proposals.
And he reiterated the society’s concerns about fire safety for residents living on the upper floors of the building, who they argue would have no means of escape in the event of an emergency if the main staircase is blocked.
However, in late correspondence, officials said the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service had been given “ample opportunity” to comment on the proposals, but had chosen not to.
But the fire safety theme was also taken up by former committee chairman Vivienne Spikings who, despite praising the design, called for reassurances about the use of cladding on the building.
And Charles Joyce rejected suggestions that the issue would be covered by building regulations.
He said: “Grenfell Tower passed building regulations. We cannot rely on building regulations in this instance. I certainly will not rely on it.”
Meanwhile, Tony Bubb suggested the proposal was not suitable for the area and would “obliterate” the view for nearby residents.
He said: “They’ve all got west-facing windows. They’re never going to see the sun set again. This is a west-facing resort. It’s sold on the basis of being a west-facing resort. It’s just too tall for that site.”