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Proposal to sell town car park sparks dispute between councils

PUBLISHED: 16:42 06 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:42 06 September 2017

Fakenham town mayor George Acheson. Picture: Ian Burt

Fakenham town mayor George Acheson. Picture: Ian Burt

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Fakenham’s mayor has accused the district council of making false claims to justify the sale of a town car park, which he argues is an important amenity used by workers, shoppers, tourists and residents.

Mayor George Acheson held a council meeting in public this week to discuss a proposal by the North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) to sell Highfields Road car park to make way for new housing for people over 55.

The agenda focussed on the district council’s consultation booklet, which was published online when the NNDC began asking the public for feedback on August 22.

In the booklet NNDC says Highfields Road car park is underused and highlights demand for housing for over-55s. It mentions a plan to provide an access road for residents on nearby Church Lane so they can continue parking at the location after the sale.

But Mr Acheson says the town council disagrees “with most of the arguments put forward”.

In a letter written on behalf of the town council after the meeting, Mr Acheson, wrote: “NNDC makes false claims about the car park’s underuse as a justification for its sale but Fakenham Town Council has shown these claims to be false by its own research and statistical analysis.”

He highlights that plans to build over 1,000 homes in the north of the town could also create a greater demand for parking space.

The letter concludes by urging the NNDC to act in the interest of the town, adding: “To serve the people of Fakenham it must plan strategically and not politically.”

Before the meeting, Tom FitzPatrick, leader of NNDC responded to the issues by saying there will be both objections and support and people have the opportunity to have their say. He emphasised those views will feed into the next stage of decision making and be carefully considered.

“By 2020 the district council’s grant from government will be down to zero and we want to make sure we use our assets for the benefit of the community,” he said.

“By proposing a sale of the land for residential development we would not only provide more homes for people to live in, we would also raise useful funds.” He added the NNDC’s focus is on attracting future investment and boosting the economy.

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