'Bitter disappointment' at ruling on 110 new homes
- Credit: Archant/NNDC
A decision to allow construction of 110 new homes on Holt's southern outskirts has been met with "bitter disappointment".
The Planning Inspectorate has overturned a North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) refusal of the scheme to build on a 17-acre (7ha) strip of land between Holt and the town’s country park, off Beresford Road.
Sarah Bütikofer, NNDC leader, said: “I am bitterly disappointed by the decision of the appeal inspector, particularly because I know the very significant impact this decision will have on residents in the area and its impact on traffic congestion.”
Cheshire-based Gladman Developments first submitted plans for the development - which includes provision for a primary school - in October 2018.
NNDC's planning committee refused the application in February 2020 because it would have meant building in a ‘countryside policy area’, which was not in its development plan.
The bid also received opposition from the public, with most objections revolving around increased traffic on Charles Road, increased congestion at the school’s drop-off and pick-up times and loss of agricultural land and open views.
But Gladman appealed to the Inspectorate, whose inspector Rebecca Norman led a hearing into the scheme in October last year, and has now decided to let it go ahead.
In her ruling, Ms Norman said she considered factors including traffic, pollution, affordable housing and economic benefits.
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The decision read: "I conclude that the collective benefits would outweigh the harm arising in respect of the identified conflict with the development plan. I, therefore, find that the proposed development would be acceptable and as such should be allowed."
However, the Inspectorate refused Gladman's claim to recoup the costs of bringing the appeal from NNDC.
A spokesman from Gladman declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper.
Georgina Perry-Warnes, district councillor for Holt, said: “Despite assurances from officers at Norfolk County Council, there is still some doubt that funding for the new primary school will actually be available.
"If this is indeed the outcome, Holt’s loss would very much be the developers’ gain. Local residents will potentially bear the brunt of yet another large development causing traffic problems on unsuitable roads.”
Fellow Holt district councillor Eric Vardy said: “There is a real need for affordable housing in Holt, what we want are the right homes in the right location. These all must be sustainable developments and include appropriate educational provision wherever they are built.”
Mrs Bütikofer and North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker both spoke against the plans at the appeal hearing.
Mr Baker, who was also district councillor for Holt when the Inspectorate's hearing took place, said: “I am disappointed to see that the considerations of those elected district and county representatives have been totally ignored with this decision.
"But even more for the residents adjacent to the new site who will have to contend with the most absurd access into a large housing estate and the rat run of a single access point for the new school.
"Couple this with it being a decision to build a new school and 110 homes on prime greenfield space, when I had always called for a more suitable location, rather than breaking planning policy.
"I also worry enormously what pressure this will now create on the nearby village schools.”