Sports body pushes for 54-home plan to go before the government

Victory Swim and Fitness Centre. Picture: Colin Finch

Victory Swim and Fitness Centre. Picture: Colin Finch - Credit: Colin Finch

Plans for 54 homes in north Norfolk will have to go before the government for final approval after a national sporting body objected.

The Paston Foundation wants to develop Paston Park, on the field next to Victory Swim and Fitness Centre off Station Road, one of the largest remaining open spaces in North Walsham.

The foundation has applied to North Norfolk District Council for the go-ahead to develop the 3.8 hectare (9.4 acre) site with a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes, with the scheme set to go before the planning committee on Thursday.

Dozens of objections to the scheme were raised by members of the public, North Walsham Town Council and Sport England.

Sport England argued the application "does not meet any of the exceptions" it has set.

If the committee agrees to proceed with the plans, Sport England says the bid should be referred to the Secretary of State (SoS) due to the loss of playing fields, which it says goes against the government's national planning policy framework (NPPF).

The NPPF says that existing open space should not be built on unless it is shown to be surplus land or the loss would be replaced with equal or better provision.

Site neighbours have also objected to the plans, with 18 concerns submitted.

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The objections focused on increased traffic, the loss of open space, poor access for people with disabilities and the impact on property value.

Paston Park, next to the fitness centre.

Paston Park, next to the fitness centre. - Credit: Google

One objector said the current local plan shows the area for education and recreation, and not housing.

They said: "Station Road is narrow and only has a narrow footpath on one side which means that pedestrians, including school children and mothers with pushchairs, are put in danger from passing vehicles.

"Additional traffic from the proposed development will exacerbate this danger."

Following Sport England's objection council officers have recommended approval subject to referring the application to the SoS and satisfactory completion of a Section 106, an agreement between developers and local authorities which often secures a contribution for the community.

The agreement calls for 45pc affordable housing and a minimum of 18,840sqm of open space on-site, as well as a £45,483 off-site contribution to a 3G football pitch or infrastructure at North Walsham Football club.

If the foundation fails to provide a suitable agreement within four months the application will be refused.

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