Rival landowners clash over plans for hundreds of new homes in North Norfolk
- Credit: Ally McGilvray
The landowner behind plans to build one of the biggest new housing developments in North Norfolk revealed he expects a rival bid to be tabled for a similar development on another site just four miles away.
On Thursday, we reported that Michael Gurney, who farms at Northrepps, had begun consulting the public on proposals to create 300 new homes – 40 per cent of them affordable - on the edge of Cromer.
The new development, on land off Norwich Road, includes proposals for new sports pitches which, it is envisaged, could provide a new permanent home for Cromer Town Football Club, whose current ground is being developed, and the town's youth team.
However, now it has emerged that Cromer Hall estate owner Benjie Cabbell Manners is expected to unveil similar plans for an alternative site in neighbouring Roughton at a meeting of Cromer Town Council on August 22.
And Mr Gurney revealed it was unlikely that councillors at North Norfolk District Council would approve both schemes if or when applications are submitted.
He believes the site at Northrepps is the better option because it is already served by public transport, sits on the main road between Cromer and Norwich, and could provide a playing field for children at nearby Cromer Junior School where land, councillors heard, is in short supply.
Mr Gurney said: 'I'm aware there are other alternative sites, we've all been asked to bring sites forward into the local plan. The advantage of this site at (Northrepps) is it's on a bus route, we hopefully will get a walk through down to Roughton Station as well, it's on the most appropriate side of Cromer and just off a main road.
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'It will almost certainly be, as I understand it, one of these sites and not both. I am hoping that this site, with the better sports facilities that it will bring, and the fact that the housing can't be seen from open countryside should be the preferred site.
'At the moment there is a requirement for new houses in Cromer and there is a crying need for sports pitches. The junior club has to travel all over north Norfolk to play and the senior club has had no security there (Cabbell Park) which means it has been unable to build up support.'
Mr Gurney presented his draft plans to Cromer Town Council's planning, transportation and environment committee in the town's North Lodge on Thursday night - where opinion was divided on the plans.
He was joined by Steve Logan, a Lowestoft councillor and acting as Architecture and Masterplanning for planning consultancy Brown&Co's in Norwich.
They revealed their development would be child friendly, have no road markings and include allotments.
However, a resident from Burnt Hills raised concerns that the new buildings could overlook her property, as well as cause noise and light pollution.
But Councillor Philip Harris revealed it could take traffic away from the streets surrounding the hospital.
Councillor Tim Adams, who represents the area on Norfolk County Council, said: 'It's a peculiar situation for us having two rival applications (of that size). It's not something we have had before.'
It is understood that money from the sale of Cabbell Park could be used to help fund the sports pitch development, which it is anticipated would also attract grants from other sources such as Sport England.
Mr Gurney, who revealed the new pitches would take two years to build, has offered the land to a new sports trust being set up to run Cromer's senior football club on a 99 year lease if the plans for the new homes are approved.
The Anglian Combination League side has previously been given a guarantee from North Norfolk District Council that it can stay at Cabbell Park until a new home is found.
Mr Gurney said: 'There is enough space for about three full-size football pitches and some small five-a-side pitches, together with a clubhouse and parking.
'The aim would be to put this into a trust on a 99 year lease who would then run it on behalf of Cromer and the surrounding villages.
'If we get the support from the local residents we will take this forward into a planning application this autumn to the district council.'
Local residents are being invited to view the Northrepps plans when they go on display at an open meeting in Cromer Parish Hall on Thursday, September 7, from 4pm to 7pm.
They can also comment online - www.norwichroad.com