Riverside development would damage Norfolk town’s historic conservation area says report

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Plans for a retirement complex which would have changed the look of King’s Lynn’s historic medieval waterfront have been rejected by a planning inspector.

Proposals for 51 flats on the former Grain Silo site at South Quay had been refused by West Norfolk Council and now planning inspector David Prentis has backed the decision.

The town’s conservation area would be damaged and the should the flats be built, the report concluded.

Developers McArthy and Stone had appealed the council’s rejection and are now considering what to do next.

The plan was heavily opposed by local residents, English Heritage and Norfolk County Council’s highways department.

King’s Lynn’s Civic Society did not put in a formal objection to the application but wrote a strong letter against the scheme.

Chairman Alison Gifford said the organisation was pleased with the inspector’s decision.

“We feel he made some valid points and validated what we had thought,” she said.

The appeal has been rejected for a number of reasons including a “substantial harm to the significance” of the King’s Lynn conservation area.

“The conservation area is extensive, covering much of the town centre and

including various stages of the development of the settlement from the

medieval period onwards.

“It would also result in the harm to the settings, and the significance, of listed buildings,” Mr Prentis said in his report.

“The St Margaret’s sub-area can be seen from the west bank of the Great Ouse at West Lynn. These are important views of the conservation area which allow

the group of buildings along South Quay to be experienced as a whole.”

He also said the plan would result in harm to living conditions of two homes in Nelson Street and the layout of the realigned Devil’s Alley would not take “sufficient account of community safety”.

The planning inspector, however, acknowledged the plan would provide 51 homes for the elderly and that it would be in an accessible location.

But he continued: “[These factors] are not sufficient to amount to the substantial public benefits required to outweigh substantial harm to the conservation area. Nor are they sufficient to outweigh the harm to the settings of the listed buildings.”

He later adds: “Overall the factors in favour of the scheme are not sufficient to outweigh the factors which weigh against it, so the appeal should be dismissed.”

A spokesman for McCarthy and Stone said the company was “currently considering” the decision by the planning inspector but refused to say if the firm was disappointed.

This decision comes as fresh plans for a multi-million pound care village on the opposite side of the river are about to be re-submitted to West Norfolk Council.

Leicester-based Prime Life wants to create three residential care homes on the 4.79-acre site fronting the River Great Ouse at West Lynn which will cater for hundreds of elderly people.

West Norfolk Council refused a previous application by the firm after councillors branded the design of the homes as “boring”.

The firm’s previous application was for two 60-bed close-care units, along with a further 70-bed residential care unit with a dementia care section, but the revised plan will see fewer beds.

The Civic Society and English Heritage both objected to the previous plans because of the view across the River Great Ouse and the fact St Peter’s Church may no longer be visible and both are opposed to the revised plans.

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