West Norfolk Council drops road objection to plan for 600 homes on edge of King's Lynn
Councillors have dropped a key objection to plans for a major housing development on the edge of Lynn, amid fears it could have triggered a £500,000 legal bill.
The Knights Hill scheme will now not be opposed on transport grounds, after legal advice warned West Norfolk Council could be seen to be acting "unreasonably" if it stuck to that line.
But the application for 600 new homes is still set to go to a public inquiry in the new year, over heritage issues.
The latest move follows a closed debate on the case during yesterday's meeting of the borough council's planning committee at Lynn town hall.
A statement issued by the authority this afternoon said committee members had voted seven to four to drop the highways reason for refusal and instead focus the council's case on the perceived impact of the development on heritage assets, particularly Castle Rising Castle.
Committee members unanimously rejected the proposal, put forward by Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood Ltd and Mr Peter de Grey Osborn, in March, even though officers had recommended approval.
They claimed that the impact of additional traffic flows had not been properly assessed, despite county roads officials backing the application, and the scheme would have an unacceptable impact on nearby landmarks.
But the applicants submitted an appeal last month, accusing the authority of acting unreasonably by refusing the application on those grounds.
And the council's statement said its members were told that the applicants had received legal advice claiming the highways objection was "unarguable."
The council has been advised that the applicants would not seek to recover costs from the authority if that objection was dropped.
The statement continued: "Members were also told that the council has sought its own legal advice, which confirmed the council could be found to have acted unreasonably if it pursued the highways reason for refusal and that this would leave it open to a partial award of costs which could be up to half a million pounds.
"The report to the committee pointed out that if the borough council did drop the highways reason and argued only on the first reason of protection of the setting of Castle Rising castle, then the parish council, local residents and other third parties could continue to express their concerns to the appeal when it is heard."
The application is due to be the subject of a four-day public inquiry beginning on January 14.