Draft plans for 320 new homes in North Walsham plus a move for town’s football club
16:59 15 March 2016
Archant Norfolk 2016
Up to 320 homes may be built in North Walsham as part of a scheme which would see the town’s football club moved to a new site.
After a long-negotiated breakthrough, football club chiefs are supporting the draft plans.
It would mean a fresh start for North Walsham Town FC, known as the Angels, on what is currently 15 acres of farmland owned by the Rossi family opposite the Cromer Road Waitrose store.
The club’s agreement is set to unlock its Greens Road base, which has been allocated for housing by North Norfolk District Council since 2011 but remained undeveloped because no suitable alternative site for the Angels could be found.
As part of the deal, an application would be submitted for 200 new homes on another area of Rossi-owned farmland adjoining the football ground, between Greens Road and Aylsham Road.
Proceeds from that development would be used to move the club and build its new site.
Manchester-based developers MLN say the scheme, which it has been discussing with the Rossis for two years, would mean up to 120 homes could then be built on the Greens Road ground, rather than the 60-80 envisaged by the district council.
The draft proposals were given a cautious welcome by North Walsham town councillors at a presentation by Mark Murphy, of MLN.
Mr Murphy, backed by Bruce Rossi, owner of the town’s Rossi Leisure, stressed they were aware of traffic concerns and had taken them into account, in talks with Norfolk County Council’s highways department.
The scheme would include improvements at Greens Road’s junctions with both Cromer Road and Aylsham Road, and traffic calming along Aylsham Road.
There would also be improved pedestrian links to the town centre.
Mr Murphy said there would be a full public consultation on the proposals.
“What North Walsham needs, in blunt terms, is more houses and longer-term sustainable planning. That’s how towns can prosper in the future,” he added.
“If you want to attract high street brands you need to increase footfall. You have to prove there are enough people in the town willing to spend their money.
“Crucially, a development on this side of North Walsham would protect the town from speculative development elsewhere, in less appropriate locations.”
Town mayor Brenda West said they recognised that North Walsham was a designated growth town and did not object to the idea of more houses, but would want details of highways improvement plans and of Section 106 agreements - cash given by developers to help mitigate the effects of their plans on such things as doctors’ surgeries, and schools
Football club chairman Andy Marrison said suggestions over the years that the club could relocate to the MADRA ground at Knapton had been unacceptable as it would have lost its North Walsham identity.
He added: “We want to grasp this opportunity to have a bigger, better club with more modern facilities and hopefully that will help us draw in more people.”