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‘Emotive’ inquiry into 600 homes plans at medieval castle closes

PUBLISHED: 15:02 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:02 17 January 2020

Standing are those people who wanted to speak at the inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Standing are those people who wanted to speak at the inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Final arguments for and against controversial plans to build 600 homes at a medieval castle were heard at an “emotive” inquiry into the proposed development.

A sign protesting at the proposed Knights Hill development  Picture: Chris BishopA sign protesting at the proposed Knights Hill development Picture: Chris Bishop

West Norfolk Council rejected developers Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood's vision to build on land west of Knights Hill Village, outside South Wootton, near King's Lynn, in March.

The developers appealed the decision, prompting a four-day planning inquiry on the scheme.

And on Friday, January 17, the developer and the council had their final chance to put their cases to the government's inspector, Roisin Barrett, who will make a recommendation to the secretary of state ahead of his decision on the appeal outcome.

READ MORE: Knights Hill public inquiry begins

Representatives of the West Norfolk Council at the inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRepresentatives of the West Norfolk Council at the inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Tim Leader, on behalf of the council, told the inquiry harm could be avoided to the "striking, isolated location" by moving the development further back.

"The castle was designed to facilitate views," he said. "The development would sever the lodge from its local context.

And Mr Leader described the developer's claim that the scheme would "help solve some sort of crisis in the delivery of affordable housing" as "nonsense".

He told the inquiry the developer had measured the need for affordable housing incorrectly.

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"The problem is a serious one but the treatment of it has been entirely superficial," he added.

READ MORE: Development would harm historic landscape around ancient castle, inquiry told

"The existing proposals are simply not good enough. It is insensitive, it should be rejected and it should be reworked."

Antony Crean QC, on behalf of the developer, said: "The central question is whether the proposals are in line with the local plan. It is important this site comes forward for housing development as soon as possible."

He told the inquiry the life chances of children who do not have a home to live in were worse than their peers, and said: "They suffer more illness and injury, their educational attainment is lower, they're more likely to commit crimes and more likely to have mental health problems.

"It is unacceptable that any right thinking persons should not want to address this issue as a matter of the highest priority."

And he said harm caused by the development was minimal.

After the inquiry closed at 11.20am, Ms Barrett thanked the council, advocates and the public for participating in what she called an "emotive" process.

The deadline for her report to be submitted to the secretary of state for housing is Saturday, April 4.

READ MORE: New homes would cause "minimal damage" inquiry told


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