Councillors agree to controversial Brancaster Staithe homes plan

A view of Brancaster beach and golf club, from the top of Mill Hill. Picture: Ian Burt

A view of Brancaster beach and golf club, from the top of Mill Hill. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Controversial plans for 12 new houses in a coastal village have been given the go-ahead - despite fears they will end up second homes.

Developer Fleur Hill included two affordable properties in its plans to build on farmland off The Close in Brancaster Staithe.

But objectors said the village needed more affordable housing, with less than a third of properties occupied by permanent residents.

Vivienne Spikings, chair of West Norfolk council's planning committee, told members that the recommendation was to approve the scheme and that the site had already been earmarked for at least 10 houses in the local plan.

Around 20 villagers attended the meeting. Resident Stephen Harvey said he had lived in Brancaster for 20 years and had seen the community decline in that time.

'Fewer than 30pc of the houses in Brancaster are occupied by permanent residents,' he said. 'We question whether the borough appreciates the challenges this outlying community faces.'

Mr Harvey said there were concerns over the scheme's impact on the area of outstanding natural beauty around Brancaster. He added:

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'This is a non-renewable asset we need to protect and conserve.'

Edward Gould, chair of Brancaster Parish Council, said three of the 30 properties in The Close were permanently occupied.

He added: 'There are already sufficient properties for the second home market.'

Mr Gould said the local plan stressed the need to maintain sustainable local communities.

'We need support in trying to maintain a viable local community,' he said.

But Jamie Bird, from the developers, said there had been no objections from statutory consultees such as Norfolk highways and the development complied with the council's neighbourhood plan.

Councillors voiced objections to the scheme and concerns that they could not prevent new properties becoming second homes.

Geoff Hall, the council's head of planning said they had to decide the application on the basis of the council's and national policies.

Members voted 10 in favour, with two abstentions and one against.

Perish councillor Ken Tidd said after the meeting: 'I'm so disappointed. Every borough councillor said all the things we've said in the past, we were ahead on points then we got knocked out at the end. The tail's wagging the dog here.'

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