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Traffic concerns raised at plan for offices

PUBLISHED: 08:08 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:31 11 September 2020

Nigel Dixon, councillor on North Norfolk District Council, has raised concerns over an application for an office at Smallburgh. Picture: NNDC

Nigel Dixon, councillor on North Norfolk District Council, has raised concerns over an application for an office at Smallburgh. Picture: NNDC

Archant

Traffic concerns have been raised over plans to convert an old threshing barn in the north Norfolk countryside into an office building for dozens of workers.

The new office would be in an old barn on site Worstead Farms already occupies. Image: Google MapsThe new office would be in an old barn on site Worstead Farms already occupies. Image: Google Maps

The plans would see a grade II-listed 19th-century building at Church Farm in Smallburgh, near Stalham, renovated into an open-plan office with 32 desk spaces on the ground floor, mezzanines with five meetings rooms on the first floor and 18 car parking spaces.

North Norfolk District Council’s planning committee is due to consider the plans at a September 17 meeting and officers have recommended it for approval.

But Norfolk County Council’s Highways team and ward district councillor Nigel Dixon have raised objections over sustainability – based on the volume of traffic the new office would attract.

Mr Dixon said in his statement on the plan: “Realistically, the site is only accessible by car and the nature of the activities will generate significant individual car travel with little or no scope to achieve group travel; as such, it’s clearly an unsustainable location with no potential to mitigate.

“Approval of this application would ridicule the NNDC commitment to ensure development takes place in sustainable locations.”

The plans are already a scaled-down version of a proposal submitted last year, which called for 61 desk spaces and 43 parking spots. The office would be partly used by Worstead Farms, which is already based at the site, and partly used as rental office space.

A council officer’s report says: “Although the highway concerns are recognised, these factors are also considered to be outweighed by the potential economic benefits of the proposal along with the benefits of preserving the long-term future of the listed building. It is not expected that the volume of traffic, other than for a brief period early morning and late afternoon, is likely to be high, and noting alternative transport options available.”

Lauren Sadd, a county council highway development management officer, said in a submission: “The problem being the site’s rural and isolated location, and the lack of alternative access modes, it is concluded that the type of employment use suggested is considered unsustainable in this remote and isolated location where access would be totally reliant on the car.”


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