Protest at seafront car park plan

RICHARD BATSON Neighbours of a seaside park say plans to put car parking amid the putting and bowling greens would be vandalism.

RICHARD BATSON

Neighbours of a seaside park say plans to put car parking amid the putting and bowling greens would be vandalism.

Cromer's North Lodge Park is at the centre of a scheme to put 56 parking spaces on the Kiddies' Corner playground.

But the play park or car park debate has sparked fierce local opposition, with a dozen residents packing the public gallery at a town council planning committee to air their concerns.

And at the weekend they were out gathering names for a petition, which, on the first day alone, signed up 250 opponents of the scheme, which is being proposed by park owners North Norfolk District Council.

Town councillors backed outline plans for the project, with committee chairman John Leeds stressing that traders at the east end of town had long campaigned for a car park in the area to help attract shoppers.

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But when the public complained at the meeting they had not enough chance to have their say, it was agreed that the more detailed plans would be brought back to a public meeting for fuller consultation.

The park was “the last part of a jigsaw” of seafront regeneration said district council property services manager David Feltham.

It aimed to improve disabled access to the seafront by helping people park near a cliff lift in the new lifeboat museum.

District council resource director Sheila Oxtoby said money for the parking had been in the spending programme for two years, and the council was keen to drive the scheme forward, with the aim of having it open by April or May next year. But she refuted claims that they were trying to bulldoze the scheme through.

Local resident Christopher Boddy said they were appalled to see plans which would vandalise a park that was one of the few open spaces left in town.

He did not see the demand for so many spaces, saying it should be restricted to a dozen slots for disabled drivers.

And he accused the council of ignoring covenants put on the land years ago in a bid to preserve the area's quiet enjoyment.

His wife Linda said people came to Cromer to enjoy the park, and extra parking should be provided instead by making a multi-storey car park at Cadogan Road.

Mrs Oxtoby said the council “was not in the habit of ignoring convenants” and had taken legal advice before drawing up its current plans.

However she was told there were other documents the council did not hold which needed to be taken into consideration.

And John Edwards said residents had been assured by the district council chief executive two years ago there were no plans for parking in the park.

t Town councillors have also agreed to convert part of the Lodge basement into a flat - to help pay for improvements to the building.

The move will generate a lump sum to pay for work including “tanking” the basement to keep out the damp, replacing the central heating, updating the electrics, new disabled -friendly entrances, removal of asbestos from fire doors and improved insulation.