Movement on a major eyesore site at the gateway to north Norfolk’s largest town is expected in the spring.

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Hopkins Homes is expected to submit a full planning application early next year for the former HL Foods factory site, off North Walsham’s Norwich Road.

The “phase one” application would be for about 190 homes, allocated employment land and car parking, according to Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of North Norfolk District Council.

The announcement follows a meeting last week between representatives from Hopkins, NNDC and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership aimed at clearing a log jam which has stalled progress.

The land is the largest of a handful of derelict brownfield sites in the town and has provoked local anger and embarrassment since the factory closed a decade ago.

Mrs Oxtoby said complications over assembling land parcels for the scheme had set back the timetable by three months but a £2.4m loan, secured by NNDC and Hopkins through New Anglia LEP, was safe.

Hopkins is expected to start using the money next October to provide infrastructure, including the main estate road, for the development.

Eventually, NNDC hopes development will begin on a larger, 24.5-hectare project, to include 400-450 homes.

Cabinet member Trevor Ivory welcomed the development. He said another of North Walsham’s brownfield sites, at Hall Lane, was being redeveloped with affordable homes, Waitrose was due to open today on part of the old Crane Fruehauf site, and magician Roy Davenport now had planning permission to develop Davenport’s Magic Kingdom next door.

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