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Shellfish facility at Wells saved

PUBLISHED: 17:38 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:33 07 July 2010

Richard Parr

A vital new shellfish handling facility on the North Norfolk coast is set to go ahead following a ruling by a government inspector.

It is hoped that the ambitious £500,000-plus scheme - seen as offering a crucial lifeline in safeguarding the future of the local fishing industry - can now be put back on the agenda.

A vital new shellfish handling facility on the North Norfolk coast is set to go ahead following a ruling by a government inspector.

It is hoped that the ambitious £500,000-plus scheme - seen as offering a crucial lifeline in safeguarding the future of the local fishing industry - can now be put back on the agenda.

Earlier today Wells district councillor and former mayor, Joyce Trett, said it was the best Christmas present the town could have been given.

“This has been a long-awaited decision and district council officers have worked beyond what was expected of them to move this scheme forward,” she said

A funding package had been secured by North Norfolk District Council from a variety of partners and the facility, to be built on an area of the East Quay, known as Favor Parker Quay, at the bottom of Standard Road, had been granted planning consent.

But at the 11th hour, opponents submitted a bid for the area to be officially designated as public open space and a public inquiry was held last summer.

NNDC council cabinet members felt so strongly that the scheme was needed to safeguard fishermens' livelihoods that they agreed to underwrite the £240,000 Defra grant if the facility was built and then had to be demolished.

Town council chairman and lifeboat coxswain, Allen Frary, described the inspector's decision as a “victory for common sense” and hoped the way would now be clear for the scheme to move forward.

“This is a welcome decision by the inspector because this is a facility that will give new impetus to the fishing industry along the North Norfolk coast. Hopefully some of the previously earmarked funding will still be available and we can move forward with this project. It is a victory for common sense,” said Mr Frary.

On Friday Norfolk County Council's General Purposes (Regulatory) Committee, which registers common land, turned down an application made in May last year, to have Favor Parker Quay and Fisherman's Quay protected as a town green after a detailed public inquiry in July showed fishermen have regularly used these area of quayside for unloading catches for many years.

The Committee did, however, agree to part of the application which gives town green status to the area known as Tug Boat Yard - an adjacent quayside area which has long been used for public recreation and which was not part of the site location for the new shellfish facility.

Councillor Clive Stockton, NNDC Cabinet member for economic development, said: “We're delighted that this project can move forward now, for the good of Wells and all the fishing families hard at work along our coast.”

Mr Stockton said he felt it was a shame that so many people have had to waste so much time over the town green application, which has simply confirmed what NNDC said all along.

“The plan for the shellfish handling facility never included Tug Boat Yard and we said so quite clearly”, he said.

John Crook, who runs a ship's chandlery business on the East Quay, and lead the campaign for the Favour Parker Quay to be designated open space, was disappointed not to have achieved this for the whole area, but felt that in any such negotiation you always have to ask for more that you expect. He was, however, delighted that Tug Boat Yard has been designated public open space and save from possible future development.

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