A developer has been criticised for withdrawing plans to build up to 185 homes, a care homes and sports park in a north Norfolk village at the “eleventh hour”.

Councillors have spoken of their “amazement” at the Cheltenham-based developer Innova Property’s decision to withdraw the plans the night before the committee met to discuss the scheme.

Speaking during a meeting of North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) planning committee, councillors were told the plans, which officers had recommended be refused, had been withdrawn.

The major new development - if approved - would have seen 185 new homes, a five pitch sports park, a 60-bed care home and supported living units built off Roughton Road, south of Cromer.

READ MORE: Officers say major 185-home, sports and care home plan should be rejected

Ahead of the meeting, the council received 185 letters opposing the plans, 12 in support and eight providing comments.

During the meeting, head of planning Philip Rowson said: “As of yesterday evening the applicant has withdrawn the application so there is now no matter to debate.

“I appreciate this will be very disappointing on all those who have an interest in this matter.”

And planning officer Geoff Lyons added: “It was a very late decision to withdraw by the applicant. It is withdrawn on our back office system and formally withdrawn.

“It is frustrating because there may have been issues we wanted to debate as a committee.”

Planning committee chairman Pauline Grove-Jones said: “We’ve all spent a lot of time reading through this application but the knowledge you have gained isn’t wasted.”

READ MORE: Town council objects to 185-home and leisure park development plans

Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Kershaw said: “I’m just amazed - this application has been going on for two years and at the eleventh hour been withdrawn.

“People have done a lot of work on this - I’d like them to have to pay for the time they’ve wasted.”

Conservative councillor Gerard Mancini-Boyle added: “We were heavily lobbied by this application and it just seems a complete waste of mine and everybody else’s time.

“If this happened every time we’d never get anything done.”

And Nigel Pearce, Conservative councillor and ward member for Roughton, said: “It makes a mockery of local democracy. A developer put this forward and we’re left with a very heavy bill.”

But officer Noel Doran said the council could not make developers pay for withdrawn schemes, but could lobby for a national policy.

READ MORE: Footpath linked to new housing development going nowhere - council concerns