New school and 110 homes hang in balance as inspector hears case
- Credit: Archant
The future of a 17-acre (7ha) strip of land between Holt and the town’s country park hangs in the balance of a planning inquiry, which has started today (Tuesday, October 20).
North Norfolk District Council rejected plans for 110 homes and land for a two-form primary school off Beresford Road to the south of the town in February this year.
Now Rebecca Norman from the Planning Inspectorate is hearing an appeal by Gladman Developments to overturn that rejection.
The district council refused the plan because the land is considered countryside, outside the settlement boundary.
At the hearing, held over video conference, Holt county councillor and NNDC leader Sarah Butikofer spoke against the development, and doubted a promised £8m from the county council to build the school would actually materialise.
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She said: “I remain unconvinced that the £7.5-£8 million has been explicitly approved. We have not seen any evidence of ring-fenced money for the school”.
Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, also spoke against the plans, calling the application “un-democratic, non-compliant with planning policy and riddled with safety concerns”.
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Mr Baker said there was little need for the new school, and estimated it would have “under 50pc occupancy” for years to come.
He said: “Are we seriously thinking that £8m will now be available for a school in Holt, without the numbers to fill it, when the money could be better used elsewhere?”
Gemma Harrison, town clerk, spoke on behalf of the town council in favour of the plans.
She said the council had opposed the development over concerns about road access, but councillors voted at a September 14 meeting to change their stance.
She said a new school would benefit the town. Ms Harrison said: “The current school, as you are aware, is constrained as it sits on two sites and is split by the busy A148. The proposed new school is therefore a huge community benefit which would be welcomed by many families in the town.”
The proposal would involve building 36pc affordable housing on the site, and making a financial contribution of £127,300 towards Holt Country Park access management and giving £337,676 to Norfolk County Council for education.
The inspector is yet to reach a decision on the appeal.