Turnstone, by John Maiden, January 5, 2016

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A Lynn News article on December 22 brought back memories of Beach Terrace Road before the homes were demolished to make way for amusement arcades.

It appears the wheel of fortune has come close to turning full circle, because Keeday Leisure Equipment wants to add a first floor extension onto the former CHS Amusements building to provide seven apartments. The planning application statement includes an admission that the property is an eyesore; the amusement arcade is a failed business; and there is no interest in the two vacant cafes.

The whole area, including the Oasis leisure centre and the Kit Kat site, certainly needs regenerating, but if there is such a desperate need for new homes, especially ones that younger people can afford to buy or rent, why not rebuild the entire terrace that gave the road its name?

Let’s face it, this area would be a better location for town houses than Redgate Hill, but the carrstone from Redgate Hill could be used to good effect in Beach Terrace Road. In case there are still doubters when it comes to the presence of this carrstone and other building materials on Redgate Hill, let me quote from West Norfolk Council’s document entitled: ‘Preferred Options for a Detailed Policies and Sites Plan’, which reads as follows: “Norfolk County Council as the Minerals and Waste Authority have indicated the presence of sand and gravel and carrstone over 1 hectare on the site which would require extraction prior to development.”

Unfortunately, when it came to the Hopkins Homes application, determined with undue haste by the planning committee on November 2 2015, there had been “no response from the county council as Minerals and Waste Local Planning Authority despite having been consulted.”

Now it could be that the older I get, the harder I find it to suffer fools gladly, but it strikes me as entirely reasonable to assume that the response from the county council, as Minerals and Waste Local Planning Authority, to the Hopkins Homes application would be exactly the same as it was to the “Preferred Options for a Detailed Policies and Sites Plan”. Surely, it would be extremely foolish to arrive at any other conclusion? I wonder if this is a matter that could be brought to the attention of the Department for Communities and Local Government by Henry Bellingham MP.

Norfolk may suffer from slow broadband speeds, but I have never experienced any difficulty in getting through to County Hall by telephone, so why was a controversial decision of this kind taken before someone in King’s Lynn (employed at tax-payers’ expense) had confirmed this fact with his counterpart in Norwich?

Perhaps this is just another example of how Norfolk County Council and West Norfolk Council manage to render public consultation superfluous, thereby bringing the planning process into disrepute. And if any reader thinks this is an exaggeration, let me point out that these were the words used by Geoff Hall, West Norfolk’s Executive Director for Environment and Planning, to describe the decision by Hopkins Homes to ‘jump the gun’ by submitting an application to build 166 dwellings on a prominent greenfield site, instead of waiting for Government approval of the Local Plan for West Norfolk…