D-day for 145 homes at Cromer

The land on Roughton Road, Cromer which is proposed for development.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The land on Roughton Road, Cromer which is proposed for development.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

One of the biggest housing developments in Cromer's recent history will be decided when it goes before councillors today.

The controversial bid to build 145 homes near Amazona Zoo is recommended for approval, but is set to be the subject of fierce debate.

Developer Norfolk Homes has selected a piece of land that is already allocated for up to 160 homes in the local development framework, and highlights a need for new housing in the town.

But opponents, including Cromer Town Council, are angry that 40 (28pc) of the homes are proposed to be affordable - well short of the government guidance of 45pc, which would be 65 homes.

There is also local concern about building on open space, and the potential impact on wildlife - including a colony of bats that hunt in a hedgerow that would be removed.

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It has already been before North Norfolk District Council's development committee, but a decision was put off to allow councillors to visit the site.

Now members will be asked to make their choice, with officers recommending approval, subject to a clutch of conditions.

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Along with the points made by Cromer Town Council, there are four letters of objection, with issues including:

? Roughton Road is too narrow to cope with the extra traffic

? Dangerous proposed access to the site

? Too many houses

? It would destroy an 'area of outstanding natural beauty'

? Impact on the privacy of neighbours.

Cromer Preservation Society has also objected, on the basis of 'inadequate' provision of affordable housing, not enough open space and the removal of the hedge along Roughton Road.

The plan for the 12.85-acre farmland site comprises a mix of one to four-bedroom homes, largely two-storey, but also including three bungalows and a few two-and-a-half storey terraced houses. There would be an area of open space to include two children's play areas.

Access to the site is from Roughton Road, while the proposal includes a cycle path and footpath running through the site to Hall Road.

The developers would also upgrade a public footpath that runs into the town centre and provide barriers to a pedestrian island opposite Cromer Academy on Norwich Road.

Norfolk Homes is planning community attractions including a pond, a youth shelter, kick-about area, landscaping, tree and hedgerow planting and a wildflower/biodiversity area. Bat roosting boxes would be put up on trees around the site, together with 'bat tubes' on a number of houses.

Expected section 106 agreements attached to the plan, aiming to offset its impact on the community, include a £174,660 payment to Norfolk County Council for places at Suffield Park Infant School.

Seventeen of the affordable homes would be provided by a housing association for rent, with the other 23 as shared equity homes.

In their report to the committee, officers said an independent review had been commissioned, with consultants investigating what proportion of affordable housing was viable for the site. They concluded that there was 'scope to deliver a higher amount of affordable housing, but not the full 45pc'.

It resulted in Norfolk Homes revising the affordable home number from 33 to the current 40.

Officers said the change meant 'on balance' the proposal was now 'acceptable'.

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