Villagers’ fury over church camp site plan for North Runcton

editorial image
Have your say

A church group says it will press ahead with plans to build dozens of log cabins in a village near Lynn, despite widespread anger among residents.

But officials from the Seventh Day Adventist church (SDA) yesterday said they were dropping plans to expand the scheme to create a camping site on its land in North Runcton, which opponents claim could accommodate up to 1,000 people.

Meanwhile, ahead of a special meeting on the issue next week, residents have demanded the parish council do not agree rights for the church to access its land, to the east of the Green, via School Lane.

Some villagers have claimed an agreement has already been reached between the church and the council.

And a letter, circulated to villagers ahead of the meeting on Tuesday, has set out why the parish council believes such a deal would be right for the village.

Church officials also claimed they have a deal, but could not provide details when asked.

But the parish council has denied the claims, pointing out that it opposed both the original development of the land and subsequent proposals, which were withdrawn last month.

However, members of the village’s residents’ group are calling for fresh assurances on the issue.

They met last night and, ahead of the meeting, one of its members, Lyndon Baker, said: “The message I’m hoping residents will back is there should be no easement to the SDA.”

Some residents have alleged the parish council has already provisionally agreed to an easement allowing access to the site via School Lane.

A letter has been circulated to residents ahead of a special parish council meeting next Tuesday, October 13, setting out why the authority believes such an agreement is in the village’s interests.

They say it would give them some control over use of the site, force the church to make a “substantial contribution” towards the maintenance of School Lane and secure a “significant” additional sum for the benefit of the village.

The letter also argues that such measures could not be enforced without a deal.

But the parish council told the Lynn News claims it has already concluded such a deal were “absolutely not true”.

West Norfolk Council granted planning permission for 32 log cabins and a change of use of the site from a racing yard to a holiday business in April last year.

Since then, however, the land has been purchased by the SDA in a deal understood to be worth around £800,000.

Planning agents lodged an application with the authority in August to vary the original permission to allow for larger cabins, the installation of camping pods and a new toilet and shower block.

Documents submitted with that application said: “The new owners wish to amend the existing permission to reflect their intentions for the site.”

But the proposal was withdrawn on September 9, a day after more than 120 residents attended a parish council meeting where a majority voiced their objections to it.

Around 160 residents have also signed a petition against the scheme.