New twist in Sculthorpe homes row

Villagers turned out in force to protest about proposed new housing in Sculthorpe. Picture: Ian Burt

Villagers turned out in force to protest about proposed new housing in Sculthorpe. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Developers behind a controversial housing scheme are set to appeal.

Villagers Tony and Margaret Walters make their views known. Picture: Ian Burt

Villagers Tony and Margaret Walters make their views known. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Plans for 200 homes in the middle of Sculthorpe were turned down earlier this year after councillors heard the scheme was not sustainable.

Villagers feared the development would change the face of their tiny community.

But developers Indigo Planning claimed it would provide badly-needed affordable homes near Fakenham, because North Norfolk council had not identified a five-year supply of land for building houses. The council insisted it had earmarked enough land - including room for 800 homes at Rudham Stile Lane, two miles from Sculthorpe on the outskirts of Fakenham.

Now Indigo has lodged an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the site's owners, the Amstel Group Corporation Ltd - meaning a government inspector will make a final decision on the scheme.

David Powers nails his colours to the mast. Picture: Ian Burt

David Powers nails his colours to the mast. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

In its 27-page statement of case, Indigo says: 'The appellant considers that, in view of the complexity of the issues arising, the only appropriate procedure for dealing with this appeal is by means of a public inquiry, for which four to six days should be set aside.'

Indigo claims the council can't show it has identified a five-year land supply and its planning policies are 'out of date'.

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It goes on: 'The appellant will provide evidence of the pressing need for housing in the district as a whole, and especially in the Fakenham area (where delivery of new market and affordable housing in recent years has been so poor), and that sustainable greenfield sites outside defined settlement boundaries are needed to meet this need.

'The appellant's case is that these considerations should weigh heavily in favour of the proposals in the planning balance and that the benefits of the proposals will significantly and demonstrably outweigh the impacts.'

Indigo claims the development, which it has called Sculthorpe Green, would 'provide market and affordable housing in a well-designed and sustainable development'.

Its submission states: 'The development would provide new housing in a sustainable location in line with national planning policy objectives. There are significant material considerations in favour of the proposal.

'The appellant will show that the appeal proposals constitute sustainable development in economic, social and environmental terms.'

But Tom Fitzpatrick, leader of North Norfolk council, said: 'We almost expected an appeal and they are stil targeting the five year land supply. In recent appeals, it's been upheld that we do have a five year land supply.'

He added the development was turned down because it was not sustainable, due to the lack of facilities in Sculthorpe.

Sculthorpe Parish Council opposes the development. Its chairman Tony Walters said: 'We're concerned about the flooding, we're concerned about the Hawk and Owl Trust reserve and all the bird life and there are many more reasons, like the number of listed buildings in the village.

'The three sides of Sculthorpe - Moor Lane, Creake Road and The Street - are all narrow and you have to be very slow going on those even now.'