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Referendum result 'was protest over too many holiday Holmes'

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It might only be a small West Norfolk village but Holme-next-the-Sea was determined to have a big say on its development future.

It was one of four parishes canvassed last week in the latest round of referendums on neighbourhood plans.

And Holme-next-the-Sea had a very large turnout of 61.1 per cent - almost double that of Thornham (31.4), which itself was way more than Tilney All Saints (19.6) and Upwell (12.5).

Holme-next-the-Sea (49681202)
Holme-next-the-Sea (49681202)

But one thing they were all equal upon was an overwhelming desire to vote for the neighbourhood plans, with three of the parishes having around 90 per cent support and Upwell almost 80.

The plans, which are drawn up by town and parish councils or neighbourhood forums, set out a vision for land use in the community and give an opportunity to guide and shape development.

When adopted the plans sit alongside the Local Plan and are taken into account when decisions are being made on planning applications.

Cllr Bob Lawton, Brancaster ward member for West Norfolk Council (49681395)
Cllr Bob Lawton, Brancaster ward member for West Norfolk Council (49681395)

Cllr Bob Lawton, West Norfolk member for Brancaster ward which includes Holme-next-the-Sea and Thornham, is clear why there was such a strong demand for residents to vote.

"I think the strong feeling is the fact of holiday houses," he said. "As far as I'm concerned we are getting far too many of them.

"People around here have to rely on Freebridge or other housing associations to supply their homes.

"With wages being so low, they can't afford mortgages."

Mr Lawton said he believes the size of the turnout was due to the hard preparation work by the parish council.

"Holme is a bit of a strange village, as in a bit different. There might not be many residents but they are very active, as is the parish council," he said.

Out of the 216 electorate in the coastal village, 132 cast a vote, with only 14 opposing the plan.

Mr Lawton, who lives in Brancaster Staithe, voted 'yes' to Brancaster's neighbourhood plan in 2015.

"Mainly because of the size of the houses that are going up," he said. "Six-bedroom places and one million pounds - completely out of the realm of most people living locally."

* A by-election was held in Upwell at the same time.

Anne Elizabeth Higgins (190 votes) defeated William John Pugh (112) to be elected as a parish councillor.

Turnout was 12.6 per cent.

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