800 homes plan warning

Plans to build more than 800 homes in three north Norfolk towns could cause problems at the local schools, education experts have warned.

Plans to build more than 800 homes in three north Norfolk towns could cause problems at the local schools, education experts have warned.

A raft of concerns about the area's new local development framework (LDF) planning blueprint have been raised by county hall officials.

They include fears that earmarking 361 new homes for Cromer, 268 for Holt and 208 for Sheringham would have an impact on local schools.

At Cromer, Norfolk County Council's children's services department says the level of housing envisaged could give rise to “serious problems” with schooling.

There could be difficulties in expanding the town's three schools which share a site that was “restricted for current needs”, and where the high school site and its fields fell below government recommended size standards.

And a further 400 homes coming through on “windfall” smaller sites would not generate the contributions required from developers towards education required on bigger sites - making it difficult to fund extra school spaces.

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The extra homes at Holt and Sheringham would put pressure on the latter's high school shared by both towns, which also had a restricted site.

Holt's primary school had spaces but the number of pupils from more the extra homes “may prove more difficult to accommodate” and there was already a shortage of places at Sheringham primary, says a report to the county council's planning and highways delegations committee, which is recommended to raise concerns over the North Norfolk LDF.

Council planning policy manager Jill Fisher said they were aware of the concerns over school capacity, but councillors had identified high housing need in the three towns.

The council would take the county's comments on board, along with those from local parishes during the public consultation, and feed them back into the LDF working party, which would be sending off its policies for government approval next year.

“We may have to amend the plans,” she added.

There are also objections to the idea of earmarking the Greens Road football ground at North Walsham for 350 homes - because of serious concerns it could “deliver appropriate improvements to the transport system” particularly walking and cycling links to the town centre.

At Fakenham, where 830 hew homes are planned off Rudham Stile Lane, there are moves to build a new primary school but there are calls to develop walking and cycle links to the town.

The committee, which meets today, will be asked to endorse the concerns and send them to the district council for discussion.