Go-ahead for controversial Holt homes plan

Planners have given a unanimous thumbs up to a controversial housing scheme in Holt's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, despite scores of objections from residents.

North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) development committee has granted outline permission for homes off Cley Road and Woodfield Road, known as the H01 site.

Holt councillor Mike Baker proposed the officers' recommendation for approval, with extra conditions, but said the 'woeful' choice of the site, north of the town, showed that 'common sense has gone completely out of the window.'

However, Mr Baker said he felt he had to support the scheme because the council would lose if developer Landform Holt Limited appealed.

The committee's approval added conditions:

? limiting the development to a maximum of 85 homes only 12 of which would be served by the Cley Road access

? authorising NNDC officers, in consultation with Holt Town Council, to negotiate with Landform for a substantial increase in the �19,000 it currently proposes giving towards improvements at the King George V play area

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? ensuring that Landform's �30,000 contribution for car parking is ring-fenced for Holt

The firm is also offering �5,300 towards the refurbishment of Holt Community Centre.

Mr Baker, backed by four resident objectors who spoke at today's meeting, said all traffic using the site would have to travel through the already-congested town centre.

'Can you just imagine what Holt town centre is going to be like in the summer months? It's already grid-locked now,' he added.

But the committee heard from Landform director Erik Pagano who said the development would include 45pc much-needed affordable homes 'despite the most challenging economic conditions.'

And he assured councillors and residents that when the detailed designs were submitted they would reflect the fine Georgian layout of the town centre and give Holt a scheme to be proud of.

David Higgins, principal engineer for major and estate developments with Norfolk County Council, said the scheme included a number of improvements to local roads - including Cley Road, Kelling Road and Cromer Road. He added: 'There's a very good package of mitigating measures coming with this for a comparatively small site.'

But the committee's decision incensed residents, who left the chamber afterwards complaining bitterly of injustice.

The site had been included in NNDC's long-term development plan document but was later substituted for another, involving land at Gresham's School.

However it was then re-instated by a government planning inspector who was later officially rapped for failing to allow public consultation on its inclusion. He apologised for the error but H01's inclusion was not affected.

NNDC planning policy manager Mark Ashwell said it was a 'bit of a hollow apology' for residents who continued to feel aggrieved at what had happened.

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