Neighbours in battle to stop council’s £1.9m car park plans

PUBLISHED: 06:30 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:15 19 August 2020

How the new car park at Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters could look. Pic: Icarus Consulting Ltd.

How the new car park at Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters could look. Pic: Icarus Consulting Ltd.

Icarus Consulting Ltd

Neighbours are battling to stop £1.9m plans to extend a car park for staff at Norfolk County Council - and the matter could end up in the hands of the government.

Secreary of state Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library.Secreary of state Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library.

People living near the council’s County Hall headquarters in Norwich are opposing plans for an extra deck on the existing car park and for a car park extension.

There have been more than 50 representations about the proposals, which would create an extra 128 spaces at the Martineau Lane site.

Neighbours say the coronavirus crisis has shown many staff can work effectively from home, so extra parking is not needed.

They say the council should be leading the way in encouraging people to get a bus, cycle or walk - not make it easier for people to drive to work.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Nick ButcherNorwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Nick Butcher

Hugh Tempest Radford, from the Bracondale Residents Association, said: “The big one for us, is that, since the council came up with its original plans for this, the world has changed because of coronavirus.

“More people are working from home and I don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was. I don’t see why they can’t delay this for 12 months to see how that develops.”

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Keri Williams, who lives nearby, said adding to the “sea of parking” at County Hall was an outdated approach to transport planning, especially given how well served the site is for cycling, walking and public transport.

Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Concerns have also been raised about how it could lead to more congestion, particularly when Norwich City fans park at County Hall on matchdays when coronavirus restriction easing once again allow supporters to attend Carrow Road matches.

Norwich City Council has objected saying it goes against policies to promote sustainable travel and cut impacts on climate change and the environment.

The city council also says its form, scale and appearance would cause harm to the setting of the conservation area, while Norwich South MP Clive Lewis is backing the neighbours’ fight against the development.

And a request has been lodged for the government to ‘call in’ the scheme. That means, if the council’s planning committee does approve the authority’s scheme on Friday, it could end up going to a planning inquiry - with the final say resting with communities secretary Robert Jenrick.

Officers are recommending the planning committee approves the scheme.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “Hundreds of additional staff, previously based at Carrow House, will make County Hall their base of operations when they return to the office following the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is also the option of transferring further staff from other buildings as part of a process that will see the council make better economic and environmental use of our assets.

“We will continue to see a significant proportion of our staff working from home after the COVID-19 restrictions ease, but, with the number of people based at County Hall set to increase, we still need to provide adequate infrastructure, including car parking space.”

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