Bus station battle goes to Appeal Court
A battle to build a shop and 12 flats on Cromer's old bus station has moved to the Appeal Court in London.Government lawyers are seeking to overturn a High Court judge's decision which quashed a planning inspector's refusal of the scheme.
A battle to build a shop and 12 flats on Cromer's old bus station has moved to the Appeal Court in London.
Government lawyers are seeking to overturn a High Court judge's decision which quashed a planning inspector's refusal of the scheme.
But officials are also still hoping to negotiate a new �300,000 bus station at the resort - and are also prepared for compulsory purchase if necessary.
The bus station on Prince of Wales Road stands unused and fenced off after main users First Bus ended their lease in 2006 and owners Ortona looked to redevelop.
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Plans were rejected by North Norfolk District Council and Ortona's appeal thrown out by an inspector. But the company took the case to the High Court where Mr Justice Andrew Collins quashed the ruling, because of 'possible unconscious bias' from the inspector who had previously worked for Norfolk County Council, one of the main objectors.
Now government lawyers want that overturned and the inspector's original decision re-instated - to save the expense of having it reconsidered by another inspector.
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The previous inspector had been involved in formulating county council planning policy four years earlier, and Mr Justice Collins felt it may have been 'more prudent' to ask the inspector to stand down.
The government however says that in the planning sphere, past professional connections are to be expected and were unavoidable. It says that just because the inspector helped form planning policy, did not mean he could not be trusted to apply it in a planning decision years later.
Its lawyers also challenge Ortona's claim that the inspector failed to take into account of the future of the site and bus station - saying there was no need for him to make a finding on the likelihood of its reuse.
After hearing representations the Court of Appeal judges are expected to give their decision in writing at a later date.
The legal challenge has delayed a county council bid to seek the reinstatement of the site as a bus station through negotiations or even possible compulsory purchase.
Although bus companies say there is no real need for a station, and are happy to pick up people on streetside stops, local people and county officials have campaigned for the return of the facility, feeling it is important for the busy seaside town where there are increasing passenger numbers.
There is �300,000 in the county council budget over the next two years for a bus interchange at Cromer.
County infrastructure officer Peter Cudby said the council "agrees that Cromer needs a bus station and still believes that the site at Cadogan Road is the best location in the town.
'We are in discussions with the owners of the site Ortona and still hope to find an amicable agreement."