‘A massive missed opportunity’ - developer blasts North Norfolk planning decision over Hoveton homes

Councillor Maggie Prior called for the plans to be approved, but they were turned down by the develo

Councillor Maggie Prior called for the plans to be approved, but they were turned down by the development committee. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A developer has dismissed it as a 'massive missed opportunity' after plans for 25 new homes in Hoveton, which would have enabled a local firm to move to larger premises, were turned down by councillors.

Hoveton firm Benthic Solutions in Marsh Road is desperate to move to premises in Church Field and said it could create up to 45 jobs. Planning permission for the commercial development in Church Field was approved by the council in February.

But North Norfolk District councillors refused the application for the new homes in Church Field, despite its officers recommending approval, at a development committee meeting on Thursday, August 31.

Speaking afterwards, Julian Wells, director of locally-based developer FW Properties, said: 'I am just desperately disappointed that I have not been able to convince the committee of this opportunity to create 45 jobs, and build 25 much-needed local houses in Hoveton, including seven affordable homes. It's a massive missed opportunity.'

Mr Wells spoke at the meeting and said approval of the plans would enable the 'development of a new science park for Hoveton'.

He added they anticipated that, should the application be approved, other businesses would follow Benthic Solutions onto the site.

The plans had been deferred by the council earlier in August, and the developers had addressed the nine issues flagged up at that meeting.

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But a majority of councillors still felt that the application should be turned down, because it was in the countryside and outside their development area.

They were backed by objector Clive Wiltshire, who told the meeting that it would breach the council's housing policy.

However, some councillors, including Maggie Prior, called for the plans to be approved. She cited 'the benefits of job growth, and the opportunity for new business growth'.

But other councillors reasoned that the public benefit did not outweigh going against policy.

Ian Wilson, director and owner of Benthic Solutions, said after the earlier planning meeting, that the firm, which is a marine environmental consultancy and survey company, might have to move out of the area, if it could not be resolved. Mr Wells did not wish to comment on whether they would submit another application.