Campaigners ‘appalled’ by 600 homes go-ahead
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 July 2020
Campaigners have expressed their anger after an appeal gave the go-ahead for 600 homes near a medieval castle.
The contentious development at Knights Hill, between the A149 and Grimston Road on the outskirts of King’s Lynn, was allowed after a four-day public inquiry in January.
West Norfolk Council rejected the plan for 600 homes, new shops, roads and sports pitches, despite the land being earmarked for development in its local plan.
Objections included the extra traffic brought to King’s Lynn’s roads, loss of countryside and how local schools and GP surgeries would cope.
But developers said at the inquiry that a public transport strategy had been given detailed thought and the scheme would bring needed affordable homes and improvements to the junction of Grimston Road and Langley Road, as well as new open spaces and a neighbourhood centre.
Norman Paske, managing director of Bowbridge Land - agents acting for applicants Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood Ltd and Mr P De Gray Osborn, said: “We are delighted after six years of work on the site that we have achieved consent and we look forward to delivering much needed housing for the people of King’s Lynn.”
In a joint statement, the parish councils of South Wootton, North Wootton and Castle Rising said the secretary of state’s decision to allow the development at the site was “fundamentally flawed”.
It added: “There should be no doubt that this development will add considerable extra traffic to what are already congested roads, whether along the over-capacity bypass to Hardwick or through South Wootton into the town.
“The fact is that even without this unnecessary development, about 550 new homes are approved to be built in the South Wootton area which of themselves will increase traffic significantly and unacceptably.
“We can therefore look forward to even worse air quality than is already experienced in Gaywood and the town centre.”
The parishes urged Norfolk County Council to “take the traffic conditions and air quality issues in King’s Lynn much more seriously” and to invest in alternatives to unconstrained car use.
They added: “We believe that the impacts of this development were never fully and transparently investigated especially concerning the amount of extra traffic it will generate.
“We hope that this will be the last ill-considered development proposal the borough’s planners support, and that it is the last time that democratic decisions are overturned in such an unacceptable way.”
David Goddard from South Wootton, a member of Castle Rising Parish Council, said locals were “appalled” by the decision, which would add a further 600 houses to South Wootton after West Norfolk Council previously gave permission to build hundreds of houses in the area.
He added: “It’s going to cause major traffic problems on the A148 and A149, tremendous environmental damage and air quality, which already is very poor in King’s Lynn, will be adversely affected.
“The A148 and A149, which are major tourist routes and very important to the economy, are already under severe pressure and to be joined by what can be another 2,000 vehicles is absolutely ridiculous.”
Mr Goddard also said his company - George Goddard Ltd, which owns farmland adjoining Grimston Road - would be adversely affected.
He said the parishes would meet to discuss the situation and had not yet decided on a course of action over objecting - but would consider a judicial review.
Elizabeth Nockolds, deputy leader of West Norfolk Council and councillor for the wards, said she was “shocked” by the decision but hoped close consultation between the developers and community would take place to ensure homes were “acceptable to a majority of people”.
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She said: ““All the North Wootton, South Wootton and Castle Rising residents gave money towards the campaign to fight against the application. There were so many people involved so they will be very disappointed.
“I understand people need homes. I would support those reasons and that’s why the borough council is building homes but it just felt Knight’s Hill area was not the right place for more homes.
“It is a special area and now they’ve got the go-ahead at the moment to put in designs, I ask them to really think about the quality of the homes and shapes and sizes and designs.”
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