Objection dropped as appeal looms over plans for 600 homes
PUBLISHED: 15:35 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:49 09 October 2019
Councillors have dropped one of their key objections to plans for 600 new homes.
West Norfolk council's planning committee voted to throw out proposals to develop land off the Wootton Road in Knights Hill in March.
It came after strong opposition from people living in the Woottons, who feared the development would being gridlock to King's Lynn's northern outskirts.
MORE - council throws out Knights Hill homes plan
The site was earmarked for housing in the local plan. Developer Camlands has appealed the council's decision. No date has been set for the public inquiry.
Now the planning committee has agreed to withdraw its objection on highways grounds after meeting in closed session.
Members were informed that the developers had received legal advice which suggested that the highways reason was inarguable.
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Camlands said if the highways reason was withdrawn, then no application for costs would be made in the event of the council losing.
Members of the planning committee were reminded that there would be no representation from Norfolk County Council to defend the highways reason, and no planning evidence from council officers as clear written and verbal advice was given that the application should be approved and the members' decision to refuse, including the highways reason, was contrary to the officer recommendation.
Members were also told that the council has sought its own legal advice, which confirmed the council could be found to have acted unreasonably if it pursued the highways reason for refusal and that this would leave it open to a partial award of costs which could be up to half a million pounds.
The report to the committee pointed out that if the council did drop the highways reason and defended its decision only on the first reason of protection of the setting of Castle Rising Castle, then the parish council, local residents and other third parties could continue to express their concerns to the appeal when it is heard.
Members voted in favour of dropping the highways reason for refusal, seven votes to four with some abstentions.
The council will now prepare its case based on the first reason for refusal - protection of the setting of the castle.
David Price, leader of South Wootton Parish Council said he was disappointed to hear that a key objection had been dropped however he understood why.
Mr Price said: "We as South Wooton Parish Council, along with North Wooton and Castle Rising Parish Council will still be raising our objections and supporting the borough council in its objections."
He added that he was writing a letter in objection to the plans to the inspectorate in Bristol on behalf of the parish council.