Decision on plans for 379 new King's Lynn homes delayed in procedural row
A decision on plans to build hundreds of new homes in Gaywood has been delayed this morning, amid claims officials failed to comply with legal requirements over the scheme.
West Norfolk councillors were due to consider the borough authority's bid to build 379 homes on land off Parkway.
The multi-million pound scheme also includes a new road bridge, linking the area to the Hardwick industrial estate.
But, during a special meeting of the authority's planning committee, members voted 14 to one, with one abstention, to delay the debate.
A council spokesman has since confirmed that the meeting will now be rescheduled for Thursday, April 15.
The committee was told that one of its members, Charles Joyce, had indicated he would seek a deferral because there had not been sufficient time between the publication of papers on the scheme and the meeting taking place.
Mr Joyce said there had not been five clear days between the report's publication and the debate being held, which is a legal requirement.
He added: "I know we're perhaps all dressed up with nowhere to go, but we need to keep our procedures in order. If we don't, who will?
"We know at least one side is going to be disappointed. But we must give whoever is disappointed a fair hearing.
"To give them a fair hearing, we must abide by our own procedures and we must abide by the law."
Before Mr Joyce spoke, assistant planning director Stuart Ashworth advised members to "err on the side of caution" and put the debate on hold, to avoid the potential threat of a legal challenge.
But Terry Parish, who seconded Mr Joyce's motion, questioned whether the delay could be used to allow further public consultations to take place.
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks, but rejected by the council, that insufficient consultation has taken place, given planned public events were cancelled a year ago because of the coronavirus crisis.
The committee's chairman, Chris Crofts, said the debate would be delayed for an "indefinite period", although it was indicated that the delay may only be a matter of weeks.
One complication is that regular committee members who were absent from today's session will need to visit the site before the new debate takes place.
Members taking part in today's session have visited the site in recent days.
The next scheduled planning committee meeting is on April 12.