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Public deserves more of a say in town’s flagship £120m regeneration, campaign group says

PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:32 10 December 2017

The King's Lynn waterfront seen from the banks of West Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The King's Lynn waterfront seen from the banks of West Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Neighbours living close to King’s Lynn waterfront deserve a greater say in shaping a £120m masterplan to transform the area, campaigners have said.

The King's Lynn quayside. Picture: Ian BurtThe King's Lynn quayside. Picture: Ian Burt

However West Norfolk council, the body behind the ambitious vision to build 436 new homes and 7,659 sq m of business space, said it has already consulted widely – even though the project is in its earliest stages.

The authority unveiled the ambitious vision to transform the area earlier this year, with its cabinet approving the use of £250,000 to develop plans further.

It is seeking international investment for the flagship bid, saying in a recent Department for International Trade brochure: “The target for development is professionals working in Cambridge.”

But the regeneration scheme has already run into rows even before money can be found to ensure its go-ahead, with the St Margaret’s with St Nicholas Ward Forum complaining that the name Nelson’s Quay is not in keeping with the town’s heritage.

The King's Lynn waterfront seen from the banks of West Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtThe King's Lynn waterfront seen from the banks of West Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

“We feel it will make those who know the area and its history question the borough council’s erudition and knowledge of the town,” forum chairman Dr Julian Litten wrote in a letter to Alistair Beales, cabinet member for corporate projects and assets at West Norfolk council.

He argued that it should instead be named after John Glenn.

Mr Beales hit back, saying: “Given that Nelson is one of the most famous sons of Norfolk and widely celebrated across King’s Lynn, that is frankly fatuous.”

But forum secretary Sally Turff said that while the group is not opposed to the masterplan, it has concerns about certain elements such as high rise flats blocking people’s views of the South Quay.

The pontoons on the King's Lynn quayside. Picture: Ian BurtThe pontoons on the King's Lynn quayside. Picture: Ian Burt

There are also wider concerns about the level of consultation on the project, she said.

“We were told there would be full consultation,” she said.

“The issue with the name shows that they talk about consultation but they do what they want to do.”

A West Norfolk council spokesman said the authority had consulted on the plan, the findings of which were published in a report.

The King's Lynn waterfront seen from the banks of West Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtThe King's Lynn waterfront seen from the banks of West Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

In any case though, the spokesman said, detailed plans have not yet been drawn up and planning applications not yet submitted – meaning there will be further rounds of consultation.

What’s in a name?

The King’s Lynn waterfront has been named after Lord Nelson “in celebration of the great British naval hero born in the area and the town’s maritime heritage”, West Norfolk council cabinet member for corporate projects and assets Alistair Beales said.

But that drew criticism from the St Margaret’s with St Nicholas Ward Forum, who said Nelson’s connection are to other parts of Norfolk and not local to King’s Lynn and the west of the county.

“Why not instead employ the name Vancouver, who was born, bred and educated here?” asked forum chairman Dr Julian S Litten.

“Or if bravery and heroism are a requirement, who better than Samuel Cresswell? He was born right beside the quay in the Bank House on King Staithe Square.”

But Mr Beales said: “The ward forum should perhaps reflect on the renaming of adjacent Lath Street to Nelson Street after the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.”

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