Latest twist in three year saga over 50 homes plan for West Norfolk village

St Nicholas Church in Gayton which was an influencing factor in a planning appeal over 50 homes on S

St Nicholas Church in Gayton which was an influencing factor in a planning appeal over 50 homes on St Nicholas Close Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A three year saga over plans for 50 new homes in a west Norfolk village has taken another twist - with an appeal against its refusal dismissed at the second time of asking.

New Hall Properties Ltd first applied to build dozens of properties off St Nicholas Close in Gayton back in 2016 - a bid which was turned down by West Norfolk Council.

The applicants were then successful in convincing a planning inspector to overturn the refusal, but after the council mounted a legal challenge this decision was then quashed in the High Court.

Now though, a second planning inspector has backed the council's refusal, leaving New Hall Properties considering their next move.

Much of the complications have related to the proposed development's impact on the nearly St Nicholas Church and how it would affect views of the churchyard.

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Anne Jordan, the latest planning inspector to run the rule over the plans, said: "I have found the proposal would result in a diminution in the openness of the setting of St Nicholas Church, which would cause less than substantial harm to the significance of the designated heritage asset.

"However, it would not ameliorate the harm to longer range views of the asset from the west and would not compensate for the loss of openness around it, which is an important element to the setting."

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The developer and the council have been approached for their comments.

Nick Fairman, of New Hall Properties Ltd, said: "We are disappointed the appeal was dismissed. In December 2017, the inspector found that some of the impact on the church can be more than adequately mitigated.

"In this latest appeal, based on an identical scheme, the inspector found that it would have a negative effect and dismissed the appeal.

"This provides a clear insight into the subjective nature of the planning system and how difficult it is to obtain permission for much needed housing."

He added that the scheme would have delivered 13 affordable houses.

The saga saw West Norfolk Council amass £5,000 in legal fees between January and March 2018 - according to its payment documents.

The council was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Timeline of the saga

- March 31, 2016: New Hall Properties Ltd submits its original, outline application for up to 50 dwellings

- September 15, 2016: West Norfolk Council refuses to grant the scheme planning permission

- May 3, 2018: New Hall Properties formally lodges its first appeal against the refusal

- October 17, 2017: A planning inquiry into the appeal begins - it lasts four days

- December 20, 2017: A planning inspector grants planning permission to the scheme

- February 18, 2018: West Norfolk Council lodges a legal challenge against the decision.

- April 4, 2018: The appeal decision to grant permission is quashed by the High Court

- September 14, 2018: The Planning Inspectorate begins gathering evidence for a new appeal hearing

- February 26, 2019: A fresh planning inquiry is held

- May 14, 2019: A second planning inspector rules in the council's favour and dismisses the appeal

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