'Diminished opportunities' - Job loss fears over plans for 43 homes
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An opportunity for jobs could be lost if houses are built on land originally reserved for an industrial estate, according to councillors and business owners.
But the developers of the scheme, which would see 43 affordable homes built off Yarmouth Road in Stalham, say there is a demand for such accommodation in the district.
The land already has planning approval, granted in 2013, for a mixed use development of houses and industrial units.
In contrast, the new application proposes only a residential estate of 22 houses and a block of 21 flats - and this has prompted concerns, among local councillors and business owners, about job prospects in the town.
Nigel Dixon, county councillor for Stalham, said there is "a huge imbalance between greatly increased housing and diminished employment opportunities" in the town.
This means the town's working population has to travel to access quality well-paid work, he said.
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Councillor Pauline Grove-Jones, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) member for Stalham, said they had been "fighting to save the economic development land for at least four years only to have it sold quietly and without consultation to Medcentres for residential development".
Stalham Town Council, also objecting, said there is "a considerable need for industrial units" and "very real concerns over employment within the town".
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Stalham Area Business Forum (SABF) said the town "needs a modern and attractive employment area to provide new business opportunities and high quality well-paid jobs".
"Stalham lags behind other north Norfolk market towns in this respect," they said.
"It would be a travesty if any other use were considered. This opportunity must not be lost."
The developers, Medcentres, who is also planning to build 62 apartments for people over 55 on the site, said there has been "no demand" for using the land as employment premises.
In papers submitted with the application, they say the land has been "marketed for many years with no buyers wishing to purchase it".
They also say that as of June 2021, there were 895 people on NNDC's housing list who have an interest in living in Stalham.
A decision on the bid is expected by November 11.
To view and comment on the plans, visit NNDC's planning portal here.