Homes plan at Cromer courthouse earmarked for refusal

Cromer magistrates' court on its final day. Photo: Bill Smith

Cromer magistrates' court on its final day. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2011

A bid to knock down Cromer's old courthouse and replace it with homes has been found 'guilty' of potentially spoiling the area.

The redevelopment of the 1938 neo-Georgian style court and police station into 35 retirement apartments is being earmarked for refusal when it comes before a planning committee.

A scheme by McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles would see the buildings knocked down and replaced by apartments, a communal area and 19 parking spaces in a complex 3m taller than the existing one.

But the move has prompted objections from conservationists concerned about the loss of the civic building on an important gateway to the town, says a report to North Norfolk District Council's development committee.

English Heritage calls for refusal saying the court and police buildings played 'an important role in the life of Cromer for a significant part of the last century.'

Combined with the old railway station opposite tom they gave a 'certain character' and any loss would harm that part of the conservation area.

Cromer Preservation Society also objects saying the replacement apartments were 'of an institutional design of no architectural merit' which would dominate and overshadow the street.

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The town council objected to the 'wrong type of housing' and two more objectors called for the building to be reused, for the youth rather than the elderly.

The district council's own conservation manager asked for the 'social history and community engagement' associated with the building not to be overlooked, while the replacement was overdevelopment and 'inferior in character.'

Two letters of support said it would help senior residents downsize.

Planning officers are recommending refusing the scheme because its benefits did not outweigh the harm it would cause.

Councillors will also be told the applicants had not adequately assessed the heritage nor done enough surveying of potential bat roosting in the building.

They will discuss the report on Thursday July 4.