New £1.9m council car park gets go-ahead despite opposition

How the new car park at Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters could look. Pic: Icarus Co

Revised plans for a new car park at County Hall have been agreed. - Credit: Icarus Consulting Ltd

Revised plans for a controversial £1.9m council car park have been given the go-ahead, despite calls for it to be turned down.

Norfolk County Council's planning committee voted in September to grant itself permission for a new 128-space car park to serve its County Hall headquarters on the edge of Norwich.

Plans to expand the staff car park at Norfolk County Council have been branded short-sighted and uni

The new car park at County Hall will cost £1.9m. - Credit: Archant

But revised plans were lodged, reducing the overall footprint of the car park deck and altering how it would be lit.

The matter came back before the council's planning committee on Friday.

People living nearby had objected again. Like last time, they questioned how providing extra car parking spaces for council staff fits with the strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

They said the coronavirus pandemic had proved people can work from home, so questioned the need for so many parking spaces at County Hall.

Norwich City Council had also objected to the principle of the car park

Brenda Jones, Labour county councillor. Pic: Labour Party.

Brenda Jones, Labour county councillor for Lakenham and Tuckswood. - Credit: Labour Party

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Brenda Jones, Labour county councillor for Lakenham and Tuckswood, spoke against the plans at the virtual meeting.

She said she believed only 75pc of County Hall staff would return to the Martineau Lane headquarters when offices open up again, with the rest still working from home.

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She said: "I think the council are spending money they can't afford, to build a car park they do not need, to solve a problem they don't have."

Bev Spratt, Conservative county councillor for West Depwade. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Conservative county councillor Bev Spratt. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Conservative Bev Spratt said he could not see the need for the car park, given models of working have changed so much because of Covid-19.

But his Conservative colleague Brian Iles said people would want to go back to offices when lockdown ends.

He said: "It's all very well working from home, but I think after a while, people would like an alternative."

West Norfolk Borough Council leader Brian Long. Picture: Ian Burt

Conservative county councillor Brian Long. - Credit: Archant

And Conservative Brian Long said the scheme was an improvement on the previous plans, which had been approved, so he would be voting in favour of it.

The council has said many staff need to use cars as part of their job, while staff who had been based at Carrow House are moving to County Hall following the pandemic.

The committee voted in favour of the scheme, by eight votes for, to one against.

Labour's Danny Douglas voted against, while Mr Spratt and Labour's David Collis and Mike Sands abstained.

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