Heacham residents celebrate planning appeal being dismissed

Villagers at Heacahm celebrate their victory over the new housing proposal on Station Road, with MP

Villagers at Heacahm celebrate their victory over the new housing proposal on Station Road, with MP Sir Henry Bellingham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham joins the celebrations after plans for a controversial development were dismissed for a second time following a public inquiry.

Broadland Housing Association and Townsfolk Ltd again challenged West Norfolk Council's decision to refuse outline planning permission for 70 new homes with a care home and housing with care facilities.

But a government planning inspector dismissed the appeal - to the relief of villagers who have campaigned against the development on land off Station Road for the last three years.

Adrian Hood, a champion of the 'Keep Heacham a Village' campaign, said: 'We see this as a victory for democracy, and hope this outcome has resolved the matter for good.

'The developer's have always dismissed the views of the village; right from the start they didn't take our thoughts into account.'

He added: 'This is victory for everyone's hard work, particularly that of our parish council.'

Sir Henry described the decision as 'superb', saying: 'When I gave evidence at the Public Inquiry a few weeks ago it was obvious to me that the whole community was united against this proposed development. It was totally out of scale, ill thought out, and deeply unpopular.'

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The developer argued the plans should be approved because the authority was unable to meet a national requirement of having an adequate supply of land for housing.

But David Spencer, the government planning inspector leading the inquiry, disagreed, and explained in his report released yesterday that the council could adequately support its claim to have a five year land supply.

He did note the council's past record of 'persistent' under delivery when it comes to house building targets.

Terry Parish, from Heacham Parish Council, said: 'We're also pleased the inspector identified the number of future homes to be built in Heacham is greater than what was originally allocated to the village.'

While Mr Spence acknowledged the developer's point about the need for specialist accommodation for the elderly, he explained the situation was not 'chronic' and measures to extend independent living are being introduced.

Andrew Savage from Broadland Housing Association and Townsfolk Ltd, said: 'We believe this decision goes against the increasing community need to deliver affordable elderly accommodation in the area.

'We will seek feedback on why this decision was taken so that we can consider next steps as appropriate.'

The application was scaled down after initially being refused, and was the subject of a previous public hearing where the developer again lost a bid to overturn the council's decision.

• Is your village fighting a controversial issue? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk