“They’re trying to get away with murder”: North Walsham Town Council objects to plans for former HL Foods factory site

Former HL Foods factory site in North Walsham from the air. Photo: BIDWELLS

Former HL Foods factory site in North Walsham from the air. Photo: BIDWELLS - Credit: Archant

North Walsham town councillors claimed this week that would-be developers of a major eyesore site in the town were 'trying to get away with murder.'

The council's planning committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to object to Hopkins Homes' application for 176 homes on the former Norwich Road HL Foods canning factory site.

Councillors are frustrated that none of the homes would be affordable social housing and that Hopkins Homes is not offering cash to help with services which might be affected by the development such as schools, surgeries, the fire brigade, police and library.

Hopkins Homes also says that it cannot meet expected eco-friendly standards on the provision of features such as water recycling and high levels of insulation.

The firm says they would not be viable 'due to the significant infrastructure costs, particularly given the previous use of the site.'

Eric Seward said Hopkins Homes had bought the site at the top of the market in 2005, assuming prices would keep on rising. They had made a poor judgement about the cost of developing the site.

'They made a mistake and are expecting taxpayers to pick up the tab. I actually think what they are trying to do is get away with murder,' he added.

Most Read

There were nearly 500 households waiting for affordable homes in North Walsham. David Spencer said their provision was vital for the town.

Dave Robertson accused Hopkins Homes of trying to back the town into a corner. Affordable homes were desperately needed but if the application was refused, the firm would walk away, leaving a 'bomb site' in its wake.

Hopkins Homes is seeking full planning permission for the homes, a 50-space railway station car park, public open space and service roads, and outline permission for employment uses on a 8.7ha (21.5 acres) site.

The town council also wants assurances that the car park would be free to use and members want to see Hopkins Homes' viability assessment for the site.

The town council's views will be considered by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) planners who will decide the application. NNDC recently changed its 45pc affordable homes goal on developments and now aims at 20pc in areas including North Walsham, aimed at stimulating building in the district.