£10m council office scheme to go ahead

A controversial £10m scheme for council offices and a health centre has been given the go-ahead, despite fears about the loss of hundreds of car park spaces.

A controversial £10m scheme for council offices and a health centre has been given the go-ahead, despite fears about the loss of hundreds of car park spaces.

Councillors voted eight to three for the office block on Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station car park, despite criticism that it looked like "an airship hangar". It will accommodate 550 staff from the county council, borough council and Yarmouth and Waveney primary care trust, though without replacing their existing headquarters, and will also include a NHS walk-in centre. But owners of local guest houses are up in arms, and together with local residents have written dozens of letters of objection.

The integrated service centre got the go-ahead at Yarmouth Borough Council's planning meeting on Tuesday night, though councillors said that wind turbines planned for the roof will have to go. But it still needs to be approved by the government office for the east of England.

The plans, submitted by Norfolk County Council, have been in the pipeline for more than a year but the original site of Estcourt Road had to be abandoned.

Mick Castle, who is a borough councillor for the area, said: "We picked the site because it is on the fringes of the town centre and it is an area which needs regener-ation. The car park is only full 20 days a year. It is not really used by people staying in the hotels and guest houses, as there is plenty of car parking at the back which they use.

"It enables modern office facilities for council staff, some of whom are in very unsuitable buildings scattered around the town."

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But Charles Reynolds argued at the meeting that the plans should have been deferred. He said afterwards: "I was reminded of an airship hangar. Quite frankly the design is pretty poor and basic.

"Local businesses are deeply concerned. It will mean the loss of a couple of hundred parking spaces, and there will be 550 people working in the building, let alone the custo-mers. I don't agree it is the right place for the building."

The Yarmouth Residents' Association and Park Baptist Church are also against the plans. Objectors believe that the 220 parking spaces will not be enough for even the staff, and that holiday-makers will have nowhere to park. There has also been a petition from 40 residents of a nearby sheltered housing complex.

Phil Colbourne, of the Trevi Guest House on Wellesley Road, said: "To say it is bad for business, bad for holiday trade, is an understatement.

"It's a big blow, but it's not the end."