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Development would harm historic landscape around ancient castle, inquiry told

PUBLISHED: 15:55 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:00 14 January 2020

The inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

Proposals for 600 new homes would harm the historic landscape around a Grade I listed medieval castle and bring gridlock to already congested roads, a public inquiry heard.

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

West Norfolk council turned down plans to develop land west of Knights Hill Village, on the outskirts of King's Lynn, in March.

Developers Whistle Wood and Reffley Wood appealed the decision.

Government inspector Roisin Barrett is now hearing four days of evidence about the development, before making a recommendation to the secretary of state who will decide whether the appeal should be allowed.

In his opening speech for the developers Anthony Crean QC said the site was earmarked for homes in the council's own structure plan and the application was in accordance with its policies.

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

He said objections were all focussed on the harm the development might do, rather than its benefits.

Tim Leader, for the council, said the development was "an especially controversial scheme", which would adversely affect the setting of Castle Rising Castle.

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He said all four parish councils opposed it, along with King's Lynn Civic Society, while some 948 people had signed a petition against it.

The new MP for North West Norfolk, James Wild, speaks at the inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe new MP for North West Norfolk, James Wild, speaks at the inquiry into the development of land west of the Knights Hill village, South Wootton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

David Cooper, for Castle Rising Parish Council, said the proposed development was on the site of the castle's former deer park and would "cause harm".

Former North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said he had never known a planning application which had attracted so much anger or opposition.

His successor, James Wild, said the development was not sustainable and not needed.

In cross examination by Mr Crean he was asked whether he also represented homeless constituents who might benefit from affordable homes included in the scheme.

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

Mr Wild said the houses would not be built for the homeless and were not needed to meet West Norfolk council's targets.

The inspector heard witnesses say the A148 Grimston Road was regularly gridlocked.

Even if the development were not built, it was forecast to be over capacity by 2026.

The inquiry is expected to last until Friday afternoon. On Wednesday, it will focus on heritage issues.

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