Residents left angry as plan for new King's Lynn industrial estate is approved
Residents opposed to plans for a new industrial estate backing onto their homes say they have lost faith in democracy after the scheme was approved today.
Hundreds of people objected to the proposed development of 16 light industrial units on a site close to Kings Avenue and Extons Place in Lynn.
But West Norfolk councillors overwhelmingly approved the scheme at a planning meeting this morning, following a visit to the site.
And opponents say they now fear a precious green space for residents and a vital habitat for wildlife will now be lost forever.
Following the meeting, resident Kerron Abel thanked what he said were the 700 people who had opposed the plan.
But he added: “They haven’t been listened to. This (country) is supposed to be the mother of democracy, but it’s not. We haven’t seen democracy carried on today.”
Penny Philpotts, who had earlier urged committee members not to “sacrifice” the land, said: “We’re not against industry. We want King’s Lynn to be a successful town.
“But you don’t need to use greenfield land. It’s very sad they have chosen to permit this.”
Committee members voted 12 to three to accept officials’ recommendation to approve the scheme.
A proposal by committee member Andrew Morrison, calling for the application to be deferred because of concerns over the number of vacant units currently available in the town, had earlier been defeated.
Ahead of the meeting, officials had argued that the proposals would promote economic growth, while the planned reduction in the number of units from 19 to 16, plus landscape buffer zones between the site and neighbouring properties, would mean there was no significant impact on residents.
But ward councillor John Collop, who spoke in support of residents, said: “They (the committee) have made a very bad decision.”
Objectors claim they are already experiencing disturbance from industrial operations on the nearby Hardwick industrial estate. Access to the application site is intended to be via an existing entrance off Rollesby Road.
They argue the proposal, submitted by Apex Platinum Investments Ltd, was not needed because of the number of existing units that are vacant and the proposals for new developments such as those planned in the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area.
They also claim that the site has become a key habitat for wildlife, as well as providing a vital amenity for elderly and ill residents who are unable to access other green sites elsewhere.
The latter point was echoed by committee member Terry Parish, who seconded Mr Morrison's proposal for a deferral.
He argued there was "no need" to allow the application to proceed at this stage, adding: "This is a greenfield site. We should not be building on it until it is absolutely necessary and it's not necessary."
Concerns were also raised about whether the council would end up maintaining a drain which runs through the site.
But officers said the argument about the number of existing vacant units could not be sustained as it would not apply in a situation where new housing was proposed.
Planning director Geoff Hall said members had to decide whether to prioritise protecting the land as it is or the plan's potential for economic growth.
He said questions over the council's ownership of the land were not relevant to the decision, adding: "The issue is whether this is a sustainable use of the site or not."