Cromer bus station victory hope

Ed FossPeople in Cromer could have their bus station back after a planning inspector ruled in their favour and against prospective developers.Ed Foss

People in Cromer could have their bus station back after a planning inspector ruled in their favour and against prospective developers.

A long-running battle over the future of the town's bus station saw a planning appeal heard last month, the result of which was announced yesterday.

Developer Ortona had hoped to build 12 flats and a shop on the Prince of Wales Road site, which has been closed for three years after First Eastern Counties Buses gave up the lease.

The move had always been vigorously opposed by local residents and campaigners hoping to preserve the station for future use as a transport hub, and North Norfolk District Council first refused planning permission in 2005.

Since then there have been several court actions and planning appeals, with campaigners hoping this latest one will draw a legal line under the matter for good and allow Norfolk County Council to continue negotiations with Ortona with a mind to buying the site.

Planning inspector Mel Middleton ruled yesterday: 'I conclude that the loss of this public transport facility is having an adverse effect on the use of sustainable modes of transport in the Cromer area and that at this point in time, the option to reuse the former bus station should not be closed.

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'In my view, this outweighs all of the other considerations.'

Peter Hickling, who spoke at last month's hearing on behalf of the Cromer Environment Action Group, said: 'This is a victory for the needs of people in Cromer.

'This is a holiday town and also there are a lot of elderly people living here, so the bus station is particularly important.

'The right decision has been reached.'

Fellow campaigner Canon Derek Elton said: 'It has been a long struggle.

'Every time I walk down there and see the weeds growing and the traffic around the discussed bus station, I have anxiously looked forward to the possibility of this decision.

'I am very glad we now have it and I hope the county council can now find a way to proceed with restoring the bus station.'

North Norfolk District Council had remained opposed to the Ortona plans because it would remove any possibility of the bus station being reopened. It said the lack of a bus station made it harder for people to use public transport and increased congestion in the town, and that there were no alternative sites in the area.