New Proposals for Wells

This proposal for commercial development in what is arguably the most conspicuous and sensitive  location in Wells has the potential to dramatically alter not just the quayside setting, but the views of Wells from many important viewpoints along the coast. It is at the pre application stage at present, but this early warning may serve to ensure that any plans submitted are carefully scrutinised to ensure the best result for Wells. 
Extract below from NNDC web site. 
As discussed earlier:
4.2 Beach Road toilet site, Wells-next-the-Sea:-
  1. 4.2.1  This small site at the southern end of Beach Road, Wells accommodates a dated public convenience block. The site is considered to occupy a prime position at the northern built edge of the town with views over Wells Harbour and saltmarshes to the east and across fields to the Holkham pinewoods to the north.
  2. 4.2.2  The Gleeds team have advised that the site has significant potential to accommodate commercial development (subject to the necessary planning consents being obtained) and have prepared plans for a three / four storey mixed use development comprising retail, restaurant and holiday apartment uses. An indicative site layout, floorplans and elevations have been prepared and will be available for discussion at the Cabinet meeting, as will details of the anticipated capital costs in developing out the site and the level of rental return which could be generated through such proposals.
  3. 4.2.3  Gleeds have advised that such a development proposal could be taken forward directly by the District Council and Cabinet is therefore asked to authorise officers to commission detailed plans for the commercial development of this site to be prepared and submitted for planning permission, following which a further report will be prepared for Cabinet authorising the release of capital funds to take forward such a development.
  4. 4.2.4  Development of this site would require re-provision of the public toilets and consideration is being given to how new facilities might be provided alongside the football club facilities which would serve existing demand and new pedestrian routes in this part of the town generated by the new visitor car park recently developed by the Holkham Estate on land to the west of the play park and football ground. Cabinet authority is therefore sought for officers to pursue discussions with the Holkham Estate about developing new and improved public convenience facilities, to include a fully accessible “Changing Places” facility, on the football ground site.

8 thoughts on “New Proposals for Wells

  1. This proposal must be monitored very closely; it is important to remember that the site belongs to the town of Wells and that NNDC’s role should be nothing more than that of servants acting as a custodian. Unfortunately they don’t always see it that way and may use planning excuses like “development necessary to maintain a sustainable community”. The voice of Wells must be heard on this one and, if the majority prefer “things to stay the way they are” (as the populace recorded in the last Town survey) then this development should not be allowed to see the light of day. It is a toilet now, albeit in need of refurbishment and a toilet is needed. I presume that the issue here is to make it “affordable”. There must be other, less intrusive solutions.


  2. As with any proposed development of a site it would be nice if the football club didn’t hear these proposal’s via social media and NNDC approached the Club to discus these proposals in the correct manner.

    Wells Town FC


  3. Having now obtained more information, I am sorry to say that this is much more serious than I at first thought. It is apparent that our little public loo has been identified as a potential “cash cow” that NNDC wants to grab and develop, subject to planning approvals being granted by, guess who, NNDC. The intention is to build a multi storey building with shops, restaurant and apartments; it is planned that this will generate a continuing revenue for NNDC to be used, not necessarily in Wells but wherever needed. In this scenario NNDC would be the developer, the planning authority and the financial beneficiary. They would use public funds to develop facilities that would compete with local, rate-paying businesses. They would exploit their position of privilege, as the planning authority, to find ways to place their plans for developing a commercial building, in the AONB and the conservation area, beyond the reach of humble public objection. There is no other reason for this building than to reap profits from Wells to fill revenue gaps at NNDC.

    This is not scaremongering; the item is coming up next week in NNDC’s cabinet meeting on Monday 6th February starting at 10am. The cabinet will be asked to authorise the preparation of plans for the development and to authorise talks to be held with landowners, Holkham Estates, to seek an alternative site for the public conveniences.

    To date, not one person in the town of Wells has been asked what they think about the idea; there has been no public consultation and no alternatives have been offered for consideration.

    Is this an indication of how much NNDC cares about and respects the people of Wells, whom it is supposed to serve?

    It is your right to attend the cabinet meeting and, perhaps, speak and I am advised that a show of strong opposition at this early stage might be the best chance we have got. I suggest that it would be a good idea to coordinate our activity so, if you feel strongly about this and wish to join the other objectors please get in touch.


  4. This surely cannot be allowed to take place without discussion in the town. I thought plans similar to this were thrown out years ago. It’s disgraceful , totally not needed.


  5. At this point I am neither for or against this development. I think we should take a step back and see what the development has to offer before giving negative feed back. At the moment there is no Planning in place, rather this is just a business plane at this stage, and has to go before the cabinet before any planning can go forward.
    We all know that the Beach Road Toilets are a disgrace and really need to be rebuilt. And a development on this site if done with the backing of the residents, and can be looked on as a benefit to both residents and visitors then we should keep an open mind until we have seen and heard what the proposals are for this site. At this stage there appears to be lots of scaremongering by various individuals, this just leads to residents being given misleading information and is of no help to anybody.


    1. Tony, there is a real danger with waiting, as I see it. There are 2 distinctly different decisions being made here.

      1. the strategic decision to convert the Beach Road toilet site into a revenue generating site by building something on it – this is being signed off on Monday, and
      2. the normal planning procedure to approve, or otherwise, the plans that will be prepared further down the line.

      We have not received any information about a consultation on the first point and, as far as I am aware there is no intention coming from NNDC to have a consultation on it. (securing this would be a good first goal). The “announcement” of their plans was made to Greg and Allen of WTC less than 1 week ago and, as you will know, being a town councillor, our district councillor, Vince Fitzpatrick, denied any knowledge of any NNDC plans for Beach Road when questions were asked directly to him on this subject at the December WTC meeting.

      Whatever the reasons for this may be, there can be no doubt that this proposal has been kept under wraps until the eleventh hour and that usually is a fair indicator of something fishy. If there is a fault here, in my opinion it is with NNDC for behaving in this way, definitely not with the public they serve, including me, who have understandably become nervous about their intentions and about the rapidly disappearing opportunities to challenge them. So I happily stand up to be counted in the group you disapprove of.

      Here is another important consideration: there is only so much that can be challenged in a planning application and it certainly will not give scope for the people of Wells to challenge the strategy of converting this necessary public convenience into a revenue generating commercial enterprise; the planning proposal will only be decided on its merits in planning terms and criteria.

      There are other related questions about the morality of public servants using public funds to set up in commercial competition to the tax paying public they serve and I suspect that some, if not all of our restaurateurs and landlords may be uncomfortable about the proposed 100-seater restaurant.

      I believe that, before this gets anywhere near to planning proposals, the people of Wells should ask for a consultation on the very decision that is to be voted on on Monday, i.e. do we approve of the proposal that NNDC should prepare plans to convert this site into a revenue generating site along the lines proposed by their consultants, Gleeds, or do we not. I think it is fair to say that there is absolutely no identified need for the building they propose except to milk the Wells economy to help to shore up NNDC’s revenue deficits. (the second part of this is written in black and white in the proposal paper)

      For those who have not seen the strategy paper or the sketches of the proposed 3 storey, 100-seater restaurant, shops and holiday apartment block, they are available on Godfrey’s blog.

      Several of us intend to go to the cabinet meeting on Monday at 10am and some of us will endeavour to secure the opportunity to speak. This is something you should all consider, including you Tony, because, if all we can do is to inform the cabinet that the people of Wells are unhappy about the process, then we should do it. And if we do not do it they might be able to claim, in any future challenge we may make that they had reason to believe that there were no objections.

      Peter Rainsford


  6. So when is the meeting, we need to publicise this event as much as possible. People of Wells we cannot just sit on our backsides and hope someone else will sort it out, they won’t and this carbuncle will get built!


    1. Hi Lea, please see my most recent post on this topic and share with as many as possible. The cabinet meeting is next Monday, 6th Feb, at 10am at NNDC offices in Cromer.


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