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Fourth time approval for hotel plan

PUBLISHED: 13:24 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:53 21 May 2010

Ambitious plans for a luxury hotel and holiday cottage complex in north Norfolk were approved by planners for the fourth time last week - but the threat of a legal challenge still hangs over the project.

Ambitious plans for a luxury hotel and holiday cottage complex in north Norfolk were approved by planners for the fourth time last week - but the threat of a legal challenge still hangs over the project.

The application by Avada Country Homes to build a 30 bedroom hotel and 23 holiday cottages on the site of the former Langham Glass factory was originally given conditional approval in January 2007.

But a series of complications, including the threat of a judicial review by a second-home owner in the area, have put the application back in front of the district council's planning committee three more times.

A change in the council's planning policy meant the most recent permission, granted in March, had to be reconsidered at last week's planning committee.

The proposals have prompted strong opposition from some Langham residents who claim the development would ruin the character of the area and reject Avada's claim that the holiday homes are needed to make the hotel economically viable.

One objector, Caroline Freeth, told the meeting it was time to move on and find a better use for the site. She said: “There are others out there who are interested. Let's wait for a proper, decent application to enhance Langham.”

But Ian Johnston, the developer behind the North Street plans, said the hotel would benefit the village and a string of delays meant many people had already lost out - including workers he had had to lay off when construction had to be put back.

He said: “The area needs the enterprise, it needs the jobs.

“It needs a first class tourist enterprise to get people into the area. Delays have had a great financial and human cost already.”

Councillors voted eight to one in favour of awarding delegated permission to the developers, subject to a number of conditions including an agreement which ties the cottages to the hotel and prevents them being sold separately.

Earlier this year London-based Christopher Smith, who has a second home opposite the proposed site, said he did not think planners had fully examined all the issues before granting delegated approval, raising the possibility of a judicial review.

Following the meeting, Mr Johnson said he was frustrated the project had been hit with so many set backs and hoped construction could begin in the spring.

But he admitted the threat of a legal challenge was still lingering. He said: “The judicial review threat is still there but I think it is inconceivable that anyone would go through with it.”

Mr Smith was unavailable for comment.

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