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‘Whatever we do at North Lodge Park, we will be knocked back’ - council leader Keith Johnson explains why future of Cromer facility should be in hands of public

North Lodge Park, Cromer.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

North Lodge Park, Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

A council leader has bemoaned the lukewarm reaction to plans to revamp a popular Cromer park.

Keith Johnson, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said “whatever we do, we will be knocked back” as he welcomed a joint NNDC and Cromer Town Council initiative to put it in the hands of a community trust.

At a recent meeting, it was agreed that district and town council support would be sought to set up a partnership working group to evaluate the idea.

Mr Johnson, a Cromer town and district councillor, said it was the best way to “move it on”.

He said: “We are not dragging our feet on this one. We want to get this in motion.

“But whatever we try to do there seems to be unease. Because of that, we think it’s best to get it all out into the open and let the public decide what they want.

“For some reason, perhaps because we suggested it, people don’t like the idea of the outdoor gym - even though there are ones at Bodham and Mundesley, and both are very popular.”

He added: “Whatever we do at North Lodge Park, we will be knocked back, so we will get the community trust set up and move it on that way.”

The move follows the failure earlier this year of a planned £200,000 revamp put forward by NNDC.

It included removing the pitch and putt and bowling greens, relocating the public toilets, landscaping the park, constructing new children’s play facilities and setting up an adult outdoor gym.

After a stormy public meeting in May, NNDC agreed to look again, and the town council subsequently agreed to push for a nine-point plan to improve the park.

It included retaining and properly promoting the putting and bowling greens, opening up the rose garden to better public access and abandoning a plan for an all-age outdoor gym at the former Kiddies’ Corner.

Reacting to the news that the community trust option is on the table, Cromer mayor Gwen Smith said she was “pleased” to see the councils working together to ensure the “best possible future” for the park.

And Trevor Ivory, NNDC cabinet member for localism, who will join deputy leader John Lee on the working group, said: “A visit to North Lodge Park is one of the highlights of a visit to Cromer.

“I am really encouraged by the high level of commitment of members and officers of both councils to seek agreement on the best way forward.”

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