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Future of Downham on the agenda for tonight’s meeting

PUBLISHED: 19:17 06 April 2016 | UPDATED: 19:17 06 April 2016

Love Local. Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Love Local. Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Car parking, housing developments and the future of the town centre are issues expected to be raised at Downham Market’s annual meeting tonight.

The annual meeting

While town council meetings tend to focus individual and day-to-day matters, the annual meeting is an opportunity to discuss the town’s bigger picture.

Residents can put questions to councillors on the issues that mean a lot to them.

These may include:-

Housing developments.

Last week outline planning for an estate of up to 285 homes in nearby Wimbotsham was submitted to West Norfolk planners. This is likely to again raise concerns about whether the town’s infrastructure, services and facilities can cope with more households moving into the area.

Big Data centre.

The proposed Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering at the former RAF Downham Market site at Bexwell will be the first of its kind in Europe. But locals are concerned it could open the floodgates for further out-of-town development, moving Downham’s focus away from its centre.

Delays to improved rail links.

Downham Market is placed on the rail line between King’s Lynn and London King’s Cross. Improvements to the Ely Junction would have seen more trains operating on the service and delays to the project are considered a major setback for west Norfolk.

Every year, residents have the opportunity to meet with the town councillors, ask questions and share their views on the issues that matter to them.

A topic expected to be discussed again is Downham’s car parks - an area which also dominated much of the debate at last year’s meeting.

John Fox, the town’s mayor, said: “The questions are not submitted in advance but undoubtedly car parking will be among the many questions from the floor.

“Unfortunately, the latest report from our consultants has only just arrived and is yet to be discussed by town councillors – so it will be difficult to give any concrete direction on where that issue is heading.”

Last September, a group of the town’s independent traders came together concerned that the car parks were full with no spaces available for shoppers.

Simon Prior, from Downham Market’s Town Team, said that as well as strategic approach to managing the car parks, a strategy and vision for the town as a whole should also be a priority.

He said: “I don’t mean to sound negative, but the town council needs to have some kind of strategy and future because the town doesn’t feel as if it’s aiming for anything.

“People in business want to know where Downham Market will be in 10 to 15 years’ time. Lots of opportunities are available here – but where is the town going?”

Another issue likely to be discussed is future development in and around the town, with housing estates and the specialist big data centre earmarked for the old RAF Downham Market site at Bexwell.

Tonight’s meeting takes place in the town hall. Doors open at 6.30pm ahead of the 7pm start.

Are you raising an issue at the meeting? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk

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