During the last few months, various letters have referred to medium and larger housing developments in and around West Norfolk, particularly in the Heacham and Hunstanton areas. All of the letters, individually, had merit in the views expressed, but each one only typified the narrow view around a single development.
If you consider the developments of Hopkins in Heacham, Lidl in Heacham and Pigeon on two sites in Hunstanton, the approximate total of housing development amounts to a build of approximately 500 new houses (excluding very small developments as in Heacham Fields) all within a radius of 2.3km.
Taking the national averages, this would amount to a population influx of an additional 1,500 people, about 10 per cent of the current population of Heacham and Hunstanton.
This raises numerous points but the salient ones are jobs, health, schools, services such as fire, ambulance, traffic and congestion.
The majority of employment in the area is in tourism and care work. Apart from these two categories, there is very little industry, so new residents will generally have to travel to Lynn or similar, particularly if they are skilled. Can the current services cope with an ageing population and an influx of another 1,500 people? The same applies to the schools – can they cater for another 200 to 300 children?
With a minimum of another 500 houses to cater for, we are closing down on the fire service network. The same question applies to ambulance requirement.
These developments will result, on average, in putting at least another 400 to 500 cars on the road in the local area. These developments, if the county’s highways authority wishes to keep the traffic moving, particularly in the key tourist influx months, will require drastic roadway and layout change. The A149, although classed as an “A” road, cannot cope with the summer queues and public transport has no chance of sticking to a timetable.
All of this seems negative, but it seems that the above points and many more are not taken into account by the planning authority and councillors when being asked or approving these developments. One would query whether it is the section 106 planning gains that hold sway or the future rates revenues.