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Paston College meeting puzzles principal

PUBLISHED: 17:42 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:12 13 July 2010

Multi million pound plans to move North Walsham's historic Paston College out of the town centre have run into resistance.

The man behind plans to move the sixth form college this week admitted he was “confused” at the reason behind a public meeting called for Friday night (October24) to discuss the £20m relocation.

Multi million pound plans to move North Walsham's historic Paston College out of the town centre have run into resistance.

The man behind plans to move the sixth form college this week admitted he was “confused” at the reason behind a public meeting called for Friday night (October24) to discuss the £20m relocation.

College principal Peter Mayne said a dedicated consultation carried out several months ago had assessed concerns and even led to some design changes.

Those changes had seen the college development plan altered by shifting the building line back by 10 metres and Mr Mayne added he felt the latest meeting was “very strange”.

“The ball is well and truly rolling on this,” said Mr Mayne.

The outline plan to move to the edge of town Station Road site has been discussed in public since 2004 and the formal planning application was lodged with North Norfolk District Council last month.

But Rob Knee, one of those keen to see Friday's meeting held, said public consultation to date had lacked key elements.

“The earlier consultation was very comprehensive in terms of the plan for the new buildings,” said Dr Knee, who lives on Station Road, close to where the new college would be built.

“But I am very worried that other issues were simply not considered, such as the economic vitality of the town centre and its cultural heritage.

“I have talked to a lot of people around town and there is a very low level of awareness about what is going on and even less understanding of the implications, not least the amount of money which will be taken out of the town.

“I am not against the college, but I believe the town needs an opportunity to have a discussion about this.

“The stakes are potentially high and include decline of the town centre, listed buildings falling into decay, dead sites in the town and a college building which is too big.”

A petition and a dedicated Facebook site had been set up, said Dr Knee, but formal objections needed to be submitted by Tuesday.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and Paul Morse, Norfolk County Council member for North Walsham, will be at the meeting.

Mr Lamb said he was “very willing” to come and listen to concerns.

“There are people with concerns and they are legitimate, so it is reasonable for me to participate in a discussion.

“But I am not in a position to make judgements at this stage.”

The meeting will be held in St Benet Hall from 5pm to 7pm.

The planning application will also be discussed, albeit almost certainly only briefly, at a meeting of the development control committee at the district council on Thueday, October 23.

The committee is the decision making body on the application but the meeting is only set to agree a visit for members to the Station Road site.


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