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Voters to give verdict on Hunstanton and Heacham neighbourhood plans

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Referendums on the future of new homes in two West Norfolk coastal communities are to be held next month.

Neighbourhood plans, which outline how and where new housing developments can be built, have been prepared in Hunstanton and Heacham, and now need to win the approval of a majority of local people.

The documents are important tools when the borough council comes to decide on planning applications, because they demonstrate how local people want their areas to grow.

Voters can give their verdicts on two neighbourhood plans in West Norfolk next month. Picture: Chris Loades
Voters can give their verdicts on two neighbourhood plans in West Norfolk next month. Picture: Chris Loades

Hunstanton’s plan notes that local residents are “anxious” not only to protect the area’s natural environment, but also the town’s separation from Heacham to the south and Old Hunstanton to the northeast.

Three large developments have been approved in the town in recent years, including 166 homes on land to the south of the town; 120 homes to the east of the A149; and a mixed development to the south of the industrial estate, also east of the A149.

A questionnaire conducted among residents as part of the plan’s preparation found that most respondents “are opposed to these large housing estates and in fact further development because of the extra pressure they will put upon local services, particularly the medical practitioners, tap water supply, sewage treatment and the road network”, the plan states.

Hunstanton's The Green in 2002 by Tony Cassie. (56365679)
Hunstanton's The Green in 2002 by Tony Cassie. (56365679)

Heacham’s document meanwhile describes the village as “a deceptive place”.

It goes on: “It is one of the largest villages in the region, with a population of around 4649, and around 2763 dwellings, yet you might hardly realise it’s there at all, bypassed as it is by the busy A149.”

The working group of councillors and local people who drew up Heacham’s plan also conducted a questionnaire among residents.

The plan states: “Many are concerned that the infrastructure is not keeping pace with development.

Heacham Village Sign. Photo: Mark Oakden.. (56602641)
Heacham Village Sign. Photo: Mark Oakden.. (56602641)

“The main areas of concern being the impact on health services, which they feel are already overstretched; lack of access to an NHS dentist in the village, or wider area; capacity of the Heacham Water Treatment/sewage works to cope with further residential development; and potential impact on the natural environment – landscape, wildlife and tranquillity.”

After receiving residents’ approval, both plans will be valid until 2036.

The deadline to register to vote is this Friday (May 27). The referendums are on Thursday, June 16.

The plans can be read at: https://www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/upcomingelections

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