Mixed feelings on Fakenham expansion plans

A wide range of views have been expressed over a planned major expansion of Fakenham.

And with just six days left of a public consultation into the proposals, which could potentially see Fakenham's 7,300 population grow by a fifth, people are being encouraged to have their say.

Main areas of concern over North Norfolk District Council's plans to allocate land between Rudham Stile Lane and the A148 for up to 900 homes, industrial development and community facilities, include potential traffic congestion, the scale of the development, a perceived lack of employment opportunities in Fakenham for the extra people coming into the town and the potential impact on wildlife.

Positive views have also been expressed about the boost to businesses and the impact the development will have on decreasing the housing shortage in north Norfolk.

NNDC planning policy manager Mark Ashwell said: 'From what I've heard so far traffic circulation is a big issue for people.

'Another frequent point that has been raised is the balance between housing and jobs and also the scale of the entire development. Some want to see the number of homes reduced.'

Mr Ashwell said until comments are analysed he could not say if changes will be made to the plans.

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To tackle potential traffic grid lock the current plans are designed to encourage people who will be living in the development to use public transport. There are plans to close access for cars on to Water Moor Lane, currently used as a short cut on to the A148, to turn it into a bus route. People living in the development will need to use one of the A roads to get into Fakenham town centre.

Dawn Wakefield, from Oak Street, Fakenham said: 'My main concern is the extra traffic. The council is making efforts to deal with that but they won't be able to stop people driving into the town and the roads are already often very busy.

'In some ways I am in favour of the plans, as they will bring more people in to support town centre businesses and there is a need for homes in Fakenham.'

Keith Evans, 72, from Field Lane, Fakenham said: 'There aren't enough jobs in Fakenham to support that many people. And I don't know who would want to live there. The way it will be isolated from the rest of the town, it will resemble a wild community like you'd see in South Africa.'

Michael Cook, 61, from Rudham Stile Lane, Fakenham, said: 'You get wonderful views out there and it is great to see the hares in March and April. There are other, more suitable, sites.

'Also we don't have decent roads around here and not enough jobs in Fakenham for all these extra people.'

Viscount Coke, from the Holkham Estate, who attended a recent public drop-in session, held as part of the consultation process, said: 'We have a serious housing shortage in north Norfolk and as long as this development is done well, as I'm sure it will be due to modern constraints on developers, this will surely be a good thing for Fakenham.'

People still have time to have their say and potentially influence NNDC's plans. The public consultation is open until May 21.

The draft development brief can see seen at www.northnorfolk.org/majordevelopments

The plans can also be seen at Fakenham Connect, on Oak Street.

Comments should be addressed to: The Major Developments Team, North Norfolk District Council, Holt Road, Cromer, NR27 9EN or e mailed to majordevelopments@north-norfolk.gov.uk