Residents pack meeting over contentious West Winch housing bid

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Residents have been urged to take their chance to make the case against a controversial planning proposal in their community.

Around 100 people packed into the village hall in West Winch this afternoon for a public meeting arranged to co-ordinate opposition to the potential development of land off Gravel Hill Lane.

The site has been included in proposed modifications to West Norfolk Council’s blueprint of future housing land provisions.

The measures are currently the subject of a public consultation, which is due to finish next Wednesday.

But villagers and community representatives maintain the land is not suitable for major development, because of flooding and transport concerns.

And the parish council’s vice-chairman, Michelle Summers, said large numbers of comments against the site’s inclusion would force the planning inspector responsible for assessing the proposals to look at it more closely.

She told the meeting: “You have got to make a big impact to put it uppermost in his mind.”

The latest fight against development of the Gravel Hill land comes after the site was reinstated into the borough council’s local development framework last year, following a re-assessment by planning officers.

The land had been removed from the plans in 2013 following a successful campaign by residents and community leaders.

Landowners Zurich Assurance Ltd subsequently claimed the site was vital to enable the provision of new infrastructure for the wider area around West Winch and North Runcton, where at least 1,600 new properties are currently envisaged.

Community leaders estimate that at least 300 additional homes could be built if development is allowed.

But several villagers pointed out the existing difficulties for residents trying to join the A10 from side roads and that new infrastructure would not be in place before any new homes are built.

Another speaker said the idea of a bypass was being discussed when she first moved to West Winch almost 30 years ago.

Speaking after the meeting, local county councillor Alexandra Kemp said the borough council’s own mapping showed West Winch was assessed as being a “very high” risk area for flooding.

She said the idea of development on the Gravel Hill site went against the village’s local plan, which is meant to be taken into account when new developments are proposed.

She added: “People feel West Winch is not getting the fair treatment it deserves. It’s not right.”

Consultation forms can be downloaded from the borough council’s website,, and returned by email to or posted to Planning Policy, Development Services, Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Kings Court, Chapel Street, Kings Lynn PE30 1EX.