Fakenham residents told 950 homes will be built ‘one way or another’ at meeting
- Credit: Ian Burt
Frustrated Fakenham residents have been told they will be powerless to prevent 950 new homes being built in the town.
More than 100 people attended the first public debate in recent years on the controversial proposals to build on land north of Rudham Stile Lane.
It is by far the biggest housing application being considered by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), which has been instructed by the government to provide 10,000 new homes across the district by 2036.
Many people vented frustrations at Fakenham Town Council's market and development committee meeting at Fakenham Community Centre on Monday night.
Concerns raised included the number of homes proposed, increased traffic, road safety, sewage and fears that many homes would not be affordable to local people.
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There are worries that, with no direct vehicle access proposed from the development site to Fakenham town centre, that a separate community will be developed with nothing to encourage residents to integrate with the town or bring benefit to town centre businesses.
During a heated debate, some called for the plans to be refused.
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Town councillor Richard Duffy said: 'This land is designated for housing and this is going to go ahead one way or another.
'We must work together to fight for what we believe is right for Fakenham and get some benefit from this for the town.'
NNDC planning policy manager Mark Ashwell said: 'All the district council can do is determine where the homes are built and what type of homes they are. 'The demand here is from older people retiring to the district and we have to respond to that. We can't put up a gate on the A11 and tell people not to come here.'
One member of the public said: 'We know there is a national housing shortage but there is nothing in these plans that would encourage the people who would live here to be part of this historic market town.'
Another added: 'With no direct vehicle access to the town centre people would go to places like Dereham, Norwich and King's Lynn. Fakenham would get no benefit from this.'
The planning application includes plans for a hotel and primary school.
A decision is not expected for several months.
Feedback will influence town council's consultation response
Monday night's meeting was held to help inform Fakenham Town Council's consultation response to North Norfolk District Council.
This could potentially influence a final decision on whether the proposals are granted planning permission, and if so, what conditions could be attached to that permission.
The town council stated before the meeting it could 'enthusiastically' support the plans if its wide-ranging concerns are addressed.
The council's concerns include issues around infrastructure, including whether the town's water and sewage could cope with the extra homes; traffic management; impact on the environment; how the development could be integrated with the rest of the town, parking and town centre accessibility.
The town council said it would like to see and discuss with North Norfolk District Council the documents supporting the planning assumptions.