Fairground ride wins planning battle
Ed FossThe future of a Victorian fairground attraction which featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was made more secure last week thanks to a planning inspector's ruling that a council behaved 'unreasonably' towards its owner.Ed Foss
The future of a Victorian fairground attraction which featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was made more secure last week thanks to a planning inspector's ruling that a council behaved 'unreasonably' towards its owner.
Nikki Jones, who owns the lovingly-preserved Pride of the South 36-horse gallopers, has been battling for a year and a half to win permission to place the historic 1893 carousel at North Norfolk Railway's Holt railway terminus for longer than 28 days a year.
To do this she needed to gain planning permission from North Norfolk District Council, but her initial application was turned down because councillors were concerned about noise levels from the gallopers' organ affecting homeowners and patients at nearby Kelling Hospital.
This was despite expert evidence from international acoustic expert Adrian James, who said previous worries about noise borne out in 2008 when the carousel was at the train station for a short period could be addressed with a range of measures to cut the noise to acceptable levels.
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These were to move the ride to the north, change the direction the organ faced and use the railway's rolling stock to block some of the noise
On Thursday planning inspector Laura Graham released her decision and gave Ms Jones the permission she had been seeking.
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And in ordering the council to pay Ms Jones' appeal costs, Mrs Graham said: 'The council's failure to provide substantial evidence to support its reason for refusal amounts to unreasonable behaviour'.
Ms Jones said the decision was a victory not only for her business, but for the wider tourism industry in Norfolk.
'I put �10,000 at risk for this, which is not an amount of money I could afford to lose.
'But I followed it through to the appeal stage because I always knew I had right on my side. I wasn't going to simply walk away from it when I knew the planning refusal was so wrong.
'The noise attenuation measures were well thought through and carefully researched.
'If I thought for a moment we couldn't solve the problems raised in 2008, I would not have persevered with the application.'
Ms Jones said her gallopers, built by Frederick Savage's company at King's Lynn, were one of less than 10 of their kind remaining in the world in such good and original condition.
'Now the rail crossing is being brought back at Sheringham, I can see in my mind an advert up at Liverpool Street station saying 'come on the train to north Norfolk and see what's at the end of the line'.'
Although final details will be discussed with bosses at the North Norfolk Railway, the gallopers could now be on site during the school holidays, added Ms Jones.