New homes would cause “minimal damage” inquiry told

PUBLISHED: 15:12 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:34 15 January 2020

The second day of an inquiry into plans to build 600 houses near a historic castle is currently underway. Photo: Casey Cooper-Fiske

The second day of an inquiry into plans to build 600 houses near a historic castle is currently underway. Photo: Casey Cooper-Fiske


Plans for 600 homes near a medieval castle would only cause “moderate” or “minimal” damage to its setting, a public inquiry has heard.

Developers are appealing after being refused plans to build on land west of Knights Hill Village, on the outskirts of King's Lynn.

West Norfolk council turned the proposals down in March, after widespread opposition. Applicants Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood appealed, triggering a public inquiry.

One of the grounds for refusal was that the development would harm the landscape around Grade I listed Castle Rising Castle. A deer park, chase and warren occupy part of the site.

But inspector Roisin Barrett, who will make a recommendation whether the appeal should be allowed to the secretary of state, heard evidence to the contrary today.

Gail Slotten, professional witness for the developers, said that she believed the deer park was artificially designed to be visible from the castle, however the chase and hunting lodge were not. Mrs Slotten believed the lodge was not significant to the area as lords and guests of lords would have not stayed there as the castle's main function was as a hunting lodge.

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Professional witness for the council, Dr Richard Hoggart, disagreed with Mrs Slotten saying he believed that the chase and lodge were visible from Castle Rising.

Tim Leader, the council's counsel, said: "The fact hunting could be seen, to me holds significance, regardless of whether it was intentional."

Mrs Slotten replied that only an "absolutely miniscule" part of the area could be seen from some parts of the castle, and said that from the viewpoint the enquiry was considering it, none of it could be seen except for "a plume of smoke from the chimney". She added that a lord wouldn't be able to see the lodge and wouldn't be able to see any hunting.

Dr Hoggart said the introduction of a screen of trees would detract from the experience for a visitor leaving the edge of King's Lynn and entering the open land of Castle Rising.

Mrs Slotten said she saw the development's potential harm to heritage as "minimal", while Dr Hoggart said he felt it was "moderate".

The inquiry is expected to finish on Friday. A decision is expected later this year.

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