New car park can light up Holt

Rural Life - Holt - Market Place.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Rural Life - Holt - Market Place.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Archant

Community leaders have welcomed the announcement that a new car park could be opened in Holt this summer amid fears a shortage of spaces is driving visitors and businesses away from the town.

Holt Town Council this week voted unanimously in favour of creating its own development, with room for 82 vehicles, off the town's Cley Road after North Norfolk District Council refused to perform a U-turn on its decision not to invest in plans for a 385 space development in nearby Thornage Road.

However, with plans for more double yellow lines in Holt, members warned the £35,000 project was only a short-term measure and that a long-term solution still needed to be found.

Supporting the proposals, mayor Duncan Baker said: 'This project has the potential to do good for the town and could help pay for other projects such as giving us fantastic Christmas lights.'

Emotions erupted as members debated the issue at their meeting in the community centre on Monday.

Councillor Michael Baker, who represents Holt on Norfolk County Council, accused district council leader Tom FitzPatrick, of being 'arrogant' after he suggested local businesses should consider paying for the Thornage Road site if it was such as sound investment.

The Walsingham councillor dismissed the attack as 'laughable' and argued the figures didn't add up. But he promised to review the proposals once alternative sites at the town's new Aldi store and Gresham's School had been developed.

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Councillor FitzPatrick said: 'There's no disagreemnent that there is a need for additional parking in Holt.' But he added: 'We'd be rightly criticised if we made an investment and it turned out to be a poor investment.'

'At the moment we don't think the figures (for investing in the Thornage Road site) stack up and we've got to give council taxpayers value for money.

'If they (local businesses) think it's sound from their point of view, they might wish to consider funding it themselves.'

With the council having granted planning permission, Steve Blatch, corporate director at NNDC, said there was nothing to prevent a consortium taking the Thornage Road scheme forward.

Councillor Michael Hill said: 'I'm appalled and lost for words. The whole of Cley Road is going to be double yellow lines which I think is going to be horrendous.'

Councillor Roger Percival added: 'The number of people who don't come to Holt because they can't park here… it's very critical for the future of Holt.'

Councillor Maggie Prior accused councillors of living in 'cloud cuckoo land'. But pointed out the town council's plans for a car park in Cley Road was a 'win-win'. She said: 'I wish I could go to Norwich and park for the price I pay to park here. If we don't take (Cley Road option) I think we will regret it. This starts us on the road to more car parking in Holt.'

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