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Survey reveals widespread objections to Wells development

PUBLISHED: 12:37 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:37 25 January 2018

Development area - the toilet block, memorial to crew members of the lifeboat Eliza Adams and the harbour office in Wells. Photo: Graham Corney

Development area - the toilet block, memorial to crew members of the lifeboat Eliza Adams and the harbour office in Wells. Photo: Graham Corney

During an extraordinary town meeting it was revealed that a survey has shown a majority of people in Wells object to a modern restaurant and shopping development that was proposed by the North Norfolk District Council.

The Eliza Adams memorial, which is at the site of the proposed restaurant development.  Picture: RAY HEWETT.The Eliza Adams memorial, which is at the site of the proposed restaurant development. Picture: RAY HEWETT.

The extraordinary town council meeting was held on Monday and members of a working group, made up of representative of NNDC and the town council, said most residents objected to plans to relocate the public toilets on Beach Road and the Eliza Adams lifeboat memorial site.

The council added that almost 1,200 questionnaires were completed and returned.

Members of North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) cabinet had voted in favour of the plans at the beginning of 2017, as part of NNDC’s asset commercialisation program which has been considering ways to generate further income to meet a budget gap caused by the end of a central government grant in two years.

If the plans went ahead, they would see both the public toilets and the memorial site moved to alternate location in order to accommodate a modern shopping area.

But widespread opposition resulted in the NNDC agreeing to conduct a consultation with the Wells Town Council to consider a way forward.

The working group said the data collected in the survey shows there is no desire for either the memorial or the public toilets to be moved elsewhere.

There is also no interest in a large modern building. If any development did take place then residents would have serious concerns over traffic management and parking.

The town council said that based on the survey it rejects the NNDC’s plans and instead supports an alternative plan, which was introduced during a meeting between NNDC and the working group on January 10.

This smaller plan includes the modernisation of the public toilets, a single shop and retains the memorial.

A spokesperson said: “We would accept a modest development, in keeping with the surrounding architecture, no bigger than two storeys, incorporating the toilets and the memorial.”

The council will also send representatives to the NNDC Cabinet meeting on March 12 to speak on behalf of the Town Council and the residents of Wells.

District council says discussions have been ‘constructive’

Representatives from North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) said following the conclusion of the meeting, their next step will be to report back to the cabinet and the next cabinet meeting will take place on March 12.

Councillor, Judy Oliver, said: “People in Wells and indeed beyond feel strongly about this set of proposals and we wanted to ensure those people were part of the discussion and able to contribute to the long term solution.

“The original proposals generated a lot of public comment with concerns expressed about scale, design, the inclusion of a proposed restaurant and the need to relocate the town’s lifeboat memorial.

“Discussions have been constructive and have included what scale of development might be accommodated on the site, the financial viability of any project and how a design might reflect the town’s built heritage and sensitive relationship with the wider natural environment.”

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