Plans to build 600 homes at Knights Hill thrown out

Members of the public make their feelings clear regarding the proposed Knight Hill development Pict

Members of the public make their feelings clear regarding the proposed Knight Hill development Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Proposals for 600 new homes on the outskirts of King's Lynn were thrown out today.

The Guildhall erupted into applause as West Norfolk council's planning committee rejected plans to develop land between the Grimston Road and A149 at Knights Hill.

It came after a meeting where councillors heard if it went ahead, the scheme would cause gridlock on surrounding roads and blight a historic landscape near a Grade I-listed 12th-century castle.

More than 200 members of the public crammed into the meeting room and the adjacent Stone Hall as the committee returned from a site visit.

Councillors had been recommended to approve the scheme, because the site was earmarked for 'urban expansion' in the council's local plan.

Objectors also packed the Stone Hall next to the council chamber Picture: Chris Bishop

Objectors also packed the Stone Hall next to the council chamber Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

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But Lord Howard warned them there was 'a very substantial opposition' over the impact the development would have on traffic and the historic landscape.

David Goddard, from South Wootton, said the development would cause gridlock from the town centre to the A149.

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Developer Camlands proposed a single access road onto the site via a roundabout off Grimston Road near Knights Hill.

But John Taylor, speaking on behalf of Castle Rising Parish Council, said: 'The roads are gridlocked, there's no capacity for extra vehicles. Any increase in traffic can only make this dire situation worse.'

David Price, chair of South Wootton Parish Council, said if it went ahead, the scheme would increase the size of the village by 70pc.

'We contend that this increase is not sustainable and is more than our fair share.' John Marrow highlighted poor air quality, saying the development would bring an extra 5,000 vehicle movements a day to the roads around it.

Paul Belton, speaking on its behalf, said: 'This is a site which has been positively identified by the council as a preferred location for growth.'

Ward councillor and former council leader Nick Daubney reminded councillors they were elected by the people and should follow their wishes.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said in a letter read out to the meeting: 'I can honestly say to you – during my 32 years as an MP I have never come across a planning application which has been so unpopular.'

'Why develop a lovely greenfield site when there are plenty of brownfield sites available.

'If it does go ahead, the traffic consequences for Grimston Road and Knights Hill will be quite horrendous.' He added just because a site was included in the local plan did not mean the council had to accept a development.

Alan Gomm, one of the council's senior planners, said the principle of development at Knights Hill was accepted and included in the local plan, published in 2011.

But as the committee debate got under way, councillor Geoffrey Hipperson said: 'Six hundred houses is going to have too much effect, not just on the roads but on everything.' Sam Sandell said the bus carrying committee members had got caught up in traffic on its way back from this morning's site visit.

Martin Storey said: 'The number's not right, the place is not right and until we can solve the traffic problems around King's Lynn, we're going to be snookered for development.'

Geoff Hall, the council's director of planning, warned if councillors turned down the application and the developer appealed, they would need to be able to substantiate their reasons or risk having costs imposed against the council.

Chair Vivienne Spikings recommended the committee refuse the application, and the vote from 14 committee members was unanimous.

Afterwards, a clearly emotional Mr Goddard said: 'I'm absolutely delighted. Today we have got the right decision.'

'I thought the committee would go with the officers recommendation but I'm so delighted they listened to the community.'

Mr Belton declined to comment on whether Camlands might appeal.

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