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Sculthorpe planning inquiry: Developers describe bid to build 200 homes in village near Fakenham as a ‘real opportunity’

PUBLISHED: 16:50 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 08:55 08 May 2017

Villagers have been protesting the proposed new housing proposals in Sculthorpe since 2015. Picture: Ian Burt

Villagers have been protesting the proposed new housing proposals in Sculthorpe since 2015. Picture: Ian Burt

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A public inquiry into controversial plans to build 200 homes in a village in North Norfolk has got under way.

Amstel Group Corporation’s planning application to build 200 homes in Sculthorpe was initially turned down by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) in January 2016 after the council said it went against the planning policy of the area and was not sustainable.

Amstel Group’s agents, Indigo, appealed the decision.

A six-day inquiry over the decision began at the NNDC offices in Cromer today (Tuesday).

It takes place during the rest of the week between 9am and 5pm and also next week on May 3 and May 4, with times to be reviewed as the inquiry continues.

During the opening day, planning inspector Colin Ball heard how, according to the developers, the plans would benefit the community, not only by fulfilling a need for housing, including affordable homes, but also by supplying a new primary education facility and a “highly attractive” village green.

In his opening statement, Thomas Hill, representing Indigo, said: “[Sculthorpe] is effectively an island ringed by urban development. This is a real opportunity to enhance the environment.”

He emphasised that the opportunity to provide housing, especially affordable options, “should be welcomed”.

Estelle Dehon, representing NNDC, argued that the concerns of the application “outweigh the benefits”.

“At its heart this appeal is simple,” she said. “[Sculthorpe] wears its long agricultural history on its sleeve. We are not talking about a modest development.”

She went on to explain that a development on this site would be “detrimental” to the village and would “dramatically change” it.

Mr Ball said the main four issues of concern he had identified were: Whether the council could demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land and the consequent policy implications; The effect of the proposed development on the character and significance of a range of designated heritage assets; The impact of the proposal on local infrastructure and whether any adverse impacts could be effectively mitigated; And whether, taken as a whole, the proposal would amount to sustainable development.

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