Homes in countryside dilemma reignites

The search for new housing sites at Cromer is likely to reignite controversy as the town tries to balance its brief to tackle north Norfolk's biggest waiting lists for homes, while protecting the surrounding the countryside.

The search for new housing sites at Cromer is likely to reignite controversy as the town tries to balance its brief to tackle north Norfolk's biggest waiting lists for homes, while protecting the surrounding the countryside.

Two areas on the outskirts where major plans have been refused in the past are set to reappear on the radar as a new planning blueprint tries to identify sites for homes, employment and other key facilities in key communities across the district.

Cromer has the highest housing need in north Norfolk, with 900 people on the list, and is looking to provide 1,000 homes before 2026, including up to 450 on greenfield sites.

As part of the earlier consultation in drawing up the Local Development Framework townsfolk said they did not want to see large scale expansion into the countryside, spoiling the setting of the town and undermining its attractiveness as a tourist destination.

But planning officer Mark Ashwell at North Norfolk District Council said that as the LDF got down to the nitty gritty of finding sites, some of the problematic locations would have to be looked at to meet the difficult challenges.

'You are never gong to get universal agreement,' he added. It would be down to councillors to decide if they want to try to fill all the local need or say they could not find the sites.

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Recommended housing sites, providing 465 homes include: a greenfield site off Roughton Road, where a housing scheme was refused in 2004, but which could provide 140 homes, and a new public park; and open grassland near Clifton Park where earlier schemes have been refused, but which could provide 100 homes along with land for open space and a new primary school.

The ideas - also covering Roughton, Aldborough, Corpusty and Briston/Melton Constable will be discussed by a LDF working party on Monday . A similar session on February 16 will look at North Walsham, Stalham, Hoveton, Horning, Catfield, Ludham and Southrepps.

It is aimed to firm up plans for a six-week public consultation beginning in June, before the plan is scrutinised by a government inspector next year and likely to be implemented towards the end of 2010.

Other key points of the LDF recommendations:


Other housing sites could be behind Sutherland House (60); temporary car park site near East Coast Motors (40); former Cromer Crab Factory (40).

Sites for new retail include the former Woolworths store, and linked service yard, which could also provide 15 homes, and the old telephone exchange off Louden Road currently home to a dance school and carpet warehouse, but which could also provide 20 homes.

Bids to find a suitable site for a car park at the east end of town had failed, with officers suggesting 'investigating shared use of other facilities in the area.'


Need for 250-300 homes with a better range of potential sites, along with another 5ha of employment land, and extra car parking, but the need to minimise impact on the surrounding countryside and to retain the small market town character.

Recommended housing sites including a large area between the bypass and Hempstead Road industrial area (200 homes and possible employment land, petrol filling station, hotel and care home); western end of Woodfield Road (90 homes), and Thaxters (20-25); Gresham's school land south of Cromer Road (90-120).

A final decision on whether to include a Thornage Road car park site will be made in March when officers hope the progress of current plans through private developer Graham Chapman will be clearer, including a new traffic impact assessment. Mr Chapman this week said he was still 'very keen' to carry on with a scheme that was vital to Holt.


Need for 200-250 homes and up to 750 sq m of non food retail. A series of possible housing sites to the east and west of the town have been discounted, along with allotment and Weston Terrace sites, leaving only a small number of options.

Recommended housing sites include land next to Morley Hill, but retaining local woodland, (70 homes); Holway Road opposite Hazel Avenue (50-60) Seaview Crescent, but retaining a vista to Morley Hill (40).

The only retail area is the central Garage site near the clock tower, which could also provide 30 homes, but it is complex, due to multiplicity of ownerships. No mention has been made of the ongoing Tesco supermarket planning wrangle, currently locked in a High Court challenge of the planning inspector's refusal.