Call to prove need for holiday cottages

RICHARD PARR A developer behind controversial plans to create a luxury hotel and holiday cottages on the former Langham Glass site has to prove that the cottages are needed to make the overall scheme viable, planners are to be told.

RICHARD PARR

A developer behind controversial plans to create a luxury hotel and holiday cottages on the former Langham Glass site in north Norfolk must prove the whole scheme is viable, planners are to be told.

Property developer Ian Johnston is next week re-submitting his ambitious to North Norfolk Council planners.

If approved, his scheme would see the redundant Langham Glass complex in the centre of Langham village, near Wells, transformed into a multi-million pound hotel and leisure complex and shop.

But a planning chief says Mr Johnston needs to demonstrate that the 23 holiday cottages are essential to make the rest of the development viable.

North Norfolk District Council's planning policy manager Jill Fisher says in a report being considered next Thursday that the scheme to re-use existing buildings for holiday/leisure uses and the creation of an estimated 50 jobs is to be welcomed.

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“However, I am not convinced that the cottages can be described as bona fide holiday accommodation or that it has been demonstrated that their construction is essential to make the scheme viable. Furthermore, no contribution is being made to address local housing needs which is the highest priority of the Council.”

She points, in a report to members of the Council's Development Control Committee, that the cottage element of the scheme is a “clear departure from policy” and for the proposed development to be acceptable there would have to be a “clear demonstration” that the cottages are necessary to ensure the viability of whole scheme.

“If this is the case, the cottage could be regarded as “facilitating development”. This, together with the creation of jobs and provision of a village shop would be sufficient, on balance, to recommend approval.”

Avada Country Homes' original proposals prompted strong opposition in the village because people felt that the original 26 holiday cottage element would effectively create “a village within a village”.

In the latest application, the number of cottages has been reduced to 23 with associated car parking spaces. The units would be arranged in three separate groups on the eastern side of the site covering approximately three-fifths of the extensive site.

A report to planners says Langham parish council objects to the scheme on a number of grounds, including density, increased traffic and parking, and visual impact.

There have been 45 letters of objection covering 34 separate reasons. There have been 31 letters in support of the scheme.

Development Control committee members are being told in a report by officers that Avada Homes point out that the cottage aspect of the scheme is necessary to fund the conversion of the existing old barn buildings . Future occupants of the holiday cottages will provide revenue to assist in the long term viability of the complex. It is pointed out in the report there is no financial appraisal from Avada confirming this.

It is also pointed out that the developers have said that there could be more than 50 jobs for local people created by the scheme. The jobs are in tourism which is considered vital to the rural economy of North Norfolk.

Planners meet next Thursday and will be given a verbal update on the proposals.