Photo gallery: Mixed reaction to the new vision for derelict Hemsby holiday camp site
- Credit: Nick Butcher
For generations it was a centre for seaside fun for thousands of families who would return annually to stay in one of its bright holiday homes.
But after years of decay the Pontin's holiday camp in Hemsby has become a rundown eyesore, the boarded up chalets a faded reminder of the thriving site it once used to be.
The camp's closure in January 2009 dealt a huge blow to the village's tourism industry with the loss of 55 jobs, and left some former staff close to tears.
But a fresh start has now been revealed for the camp after developers revealed their plans to build around 200 new homes, a pub/restaurant and village shop on the 22-acre site.
Landowner Northern Trust has worked alongside commercial developer the Lindum Group to come up with its vision for the village-centre site, which residents got to see for the first time yesterday.
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Scores of people flocked to the village hall to look at the plans, which sparked concerns and upset among many.
John Bennison, 72, who has lived in the village for more than 50 years, said: 'It wants something doing with it and people have got to have a house to live in, we all understand that. But what they have come up with it's ridiculous.'
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Jack Bensly, 59, from North Road, added: 'It's a-grade holiday land and why change holiday land to residential? Once you do that you'll set a precedent.'
Many villagers said the site should be retained for leisure use and thought a swimming pool, gym or open space for youngsters would be a better use for it.
Shirley Weymouth, borough councillor for Hemsby, echoed residents comments and thought part of the park should be retained for holiday use.
'I don't think we need another pub or food provision store, if we do need anything it's a medical centre with a lot of parking,' she added. 'Some of it needs to go to housing but at the end of the day we're a holiday village.'
Planning consultant Erica Whettingsteel, who is working on behalf of the trust, said yesterday's exhibition aimed to collect people's comments, opinions and ideas to help shape the final plans before an application is submitted to the borough council.
Mrs Whettingsteel admitted opinions had been 'mixed' and the exhibition aimed to help find a 'balance' for the 'right scheme'.
She added: 'It's regenerating that site, which is a gateway into Hemsby, and should lift the whole area because one or two people have told me they're in the holiday industry and it's a problem to them that the site has become an eyesore.
'And the construction phase brings lots of jobs and new people and new income in the village.'
The scheme would include affordable housing, which would also provide social benefits, she said.
The trust decided to put forward its own scheme after developer Persimmon Homes pulled out of the site, months after unveiling its plans to build 250 homes on the site.
Persimmon is said to have walked away because it felt it had too many other developments already in the pipeline.