Turnstone, February 17, 2015: Hunstanton HELP team need backing over development plan

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Four weeks ago I suggested that members of the public might easily be deterred from taking part in a consultation process on the new Local Plan for West Norfolk because of the convoluted title of the document in question.

I might also have added that finding the relevant pages could be a further disincentive to anyone thinking of responding before the deadline for receiving comments, which is 5pm next Monday, February 23!

However, I was taken by surprise when Hunstanton town councillors decided by 7 votes to 6 not to make a response of any kind to the ‘Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Pre-Submission Document’.

This was after Andrew Murray had taken the trouble to produce extracts of particular relevance to Hunstanton. Mr Murray is chairman of Hunstanton & District Civic Society as well as being a town councillor.

It is to be hoped members of the public will not adopt the disinterested (or possibly uninterested) approach of the seven councillors who succeeded in kicking this opportunity into the long grass and will instead follow the example set by the Civic Society and HELP – Hunstanton Environmental Landscape Programme.

Perhaps more individuals will be encouraged to take part in the consultation if they read just a few of the points raised by HELP:

The document in its current form is too bulky for a meaningful consultation to take place. A colleague extracted policies and development allocations directly concerning Hunstanton and it would have been better if West Norfolk council had produced such extracts.

We are dismayed that Hunstanton town council resolved to make no response to this document. We feel that it is an abrogation of its responsibility to the town’s residents for it not to make positive contributions on such an important issue, which has far-reaching consequences for the development of our town over the next decade.

Despite the cost of producing this plan (we have been unable to get a figure as yet) and its importance for future large-scale development across the Borough, we note that there is a history of decisions based on policies in the previous plan being set aside by both planning inspectors and by the council itself.

With regard to land south of the town, off Hunstanton Road, Heacham, HELP objects to large-scale development because:

The proposed access via a new roundabout on the A149 is contrary to CS 11 Transportation and DM12 Strategic Road Network. The primary purpose of the A149 is as a road for long distance travel. A roundabout serving the proposed development would cause an unwelcome disruption to the traffic flow for residents and visitors on this strategic route into the town and beyond.

Vehicular access to the site via Heacham would make it more difficult to incorporate the new development into the community life of the town; it would be an out-of-town add-on. The sloping nature of the site would be a disincentive for new residents to walk or cycle from their homes. Neither would they have convenient connections with public transport.

Development on this site would compromise the gap between Hunstanton and Heacham; not least because vehicular access to the town from the new estate would have to be via Heacham. Extra traffic would be generated along Hunstanton Road, Heacham, towards that village to the disadvantage of residents there and to motorists already using the awkward crossing where Hunstanton Road joins Lynn Road at the High Street junction. We note that Heacham residents, represented by their parish, and borough councillors have raised objections and expressed concerns about the impact of this development on their village.

The policies call for ‘the incorporation of a high quality landscaping scheme to limit the visual impact of the proposed development on the countryside and on the southern approach to Hunstanton’. The introductory paragraph F.2.2, describes Hunstanton as having ‘well-defined boundaries’ and its character as being ‘spacious, breezy and green, where the effect of the open sea and sky has a strong impact on the light, views and settings of the buildings’. The sloping site makes it impossible to reconcile these two conflicting statements.