Sadness as former sailing school set to be demolished for homes

The former sailing school is located on the main road in Brancaster Staithe.

The former sailing school is located on the main road in Brancaster Staithe. - Credit: Google

A former sailing school on the north Norfolk coast is set to be demolished and replaced with two new houses, after councillors voted near-unanimously in favour of the plan. 

Langton Homes Ltd had applied for permission to knock down the three buildings which once comprised the Sailcraft Sea School in Brancaster Staithe to make space for the homes.

The school closed in December 2018, and the developer argues that the buildings are “not fit for purpose for modern commercial use”.

Brancaster Parish Council had opposed the plan, saying that they would like the buildings to remain commercial, but West Norfolk borough council’s planning officers recommended that the plan be approved, saying they were satisfied by the evidence of 'non-viability'.

West Norfolk borough council had been due to make a decision on the homes on Monday of this week, but local independent councillor Bob Lawton requested that the committee visit the site to see it for themselves.

Following that visit, the committee reconvened on Thursday to decide its future. 

Independent opposition leader Terry Parish said the site had been marketed to commercial renters at about £50,000 a year and £1,000 a week - making it too expensive. 

Terry Parish, the parish councillor.. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Independent opposition leader Terry Parish

Mr Parish said: “It’s very unfortunate that this [is a] prime site, close to the quay, suitable for commercial use, which Brancaster needs - and it certainly doesn’t need second homes, or holiday homes, it’s got plenty of those. 

“So it’s very unfortunate and I sympathise with the parish council, who want to do the best for their village and that’s why they’ve made this comment.”

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Independent councillor Sandra Squire said: “I concur with Terry, it is very sad that commercial use can’t continue. 

Independent Norfolk county councillor Sandra Squire. Pic: Norfolk Independent Group.

Independent councillor Sandra Squire - Credit: Norfolk Independent Group

“I bought my favourite sailing gloves there and my kids used to buy their wetsuits there, but the rent was out of the means of most business owners.

“It is what it is - so it’s sad, but I think it’s necessary.” 

She said that since no comments on the plan had been received from the Norfolk Coast Partnership, she couldn’t think of a planning-related reason for the scheme not to go ahead. 

Councillors voted by a margin of 11 to one in favour of the plan.