Council accused of acting against 'public good' over housing development

Construction industry. Timber framework of house roof trusses with scaffold on a building being buil

Construction stock image - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Independent councillors have accused a West Norfolk council of “acting contrary to the public good” over a proposed housing development.  

In a letter to councillors, Terry Parish, the leader of the Independent Group of councillors at King's Lynn and West Norfolk Council (KLWNC) raised concerns about plans for Parkway in King's Lynn.  

The plans, which are due to be heard at a special planning meeting on Wednesday, will see 379 new homes built on land east of King's Lynn Academy.  

West Norfolk council's offices in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

West Norfolk council's offices in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Mr Parish stressed their concerns were not about the application, but of how the application has been dealt with in terms of planning law.  

He said: “The legal framework for a development by the council means that panel or committee or cabinet consideration of a proposal cannot meet in [private] to discuss such a proposal.   

“To date, the public has been excluded from all such discussions connected with this council development.”

Mr Parish also raised concerns about the lack of a financial viability report for the development, despite August 2019 minutes suggesting the cabinet would have it by November.  

“This has meant no scrutiny either by the cabinet nor the bodies empowered with direct scrutiny over the project has been permitted with this key financial viability evidence available,” he said.  

Terry Parish, the parish councillor.. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Terry Parish, leader of the Independent Group of councillors at Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Council

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“Therefore, not only has no public access to the financial viability taken place, there has been no opportunity for examination of the financial viability of the project by the council’s own elected members, including those appointed to the cabinet.”  

Mr Parish added the closest the council was getting to a viability study would be at the corporate performance panel, which will be held on Wednesday, after the planning meeting.  

A council spokeswoman rejected Mr Parish’s concerns, saying there was “no legal contravention” that prevents the matter from being considered on Wednesday.  

They said: “It has always been the council’s plan to bring the proposed Parkway Development back before cabinet and then full council for a decision on whether to develop the site or not, following the outcome of enabling work and investigations, and to provide the most up-to-date assessment of financial viability of the proposed development.”  

The development will also be considered by the regeneration and development panel in April and the cabinet in May, which the spokeswoman expects will be open to the public.  

She added: “The consideration of the proposed Parkway Development by cabinet and then full council is a separate decision-making process to that before Planning Committee on Wednesday."

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