There are a number of new development proposals contained in the Site Allocation policies of the new Local Plan which is out for consultation with the Public. This is our ONLY chance to influence how and where this proposed development will take place until a Planning Application is made (and if the area is allocated in the Local Plan for development then the principle of the development is ‘accepted’ de facto – so if we don’t like it now is the ONLY opportunity to make such opposition count. If you want to respond it is VITAL that you do so by 19th June 2019 – after that responses wont count but you can still lobby your local District Councillor and this will be worth while as they have a strong say in the process
We have highlighted 3 sites in the Coast area which are considerd to be damaging to the special qualities of the North Norfolk Coast and its AONB
New Development proposals for
Wells next the Sea – land off Holkham Road -site W07/1.
Cromer – Land at Runton Road/ Clifton Park C07/1
Blakeney – land to the east of Langham Road BLA04/1
Wells next the Sea – land off Holkham Road -site W07/1. Currently under consultation in the North Norfolk District Council Local Plan review. This is our chance to say what we think about probably the most damaging single development proposal in the North Norfolk AONB in the last generation. This development would extend the built form of Wells substantially into a green field hill top site on the western side of the Town overlooking the marshes and Holkham Nature Reserve area to the north. A large housing estate of 60 dwellings is proposed on this open ridge to the west of the existing settlement boundary which will be entirely visible from a vast area of some of the most valued landscape in North Norfolk. Clearly the intention of the development is to maximise the value of the land by giving some properties a fine view of a most special landscape – the problem is that this also gives the rest of us a chance to see an ugly scar along the horizon – a new housing estate – a more visually damaging location adjacent to the Town would have been difficult to find.
This is clearly not a sustainable location in any sense of the word. Housing demand in Wells is unlikely to be met on such an estate where housing costs will be well out of the reach of most local people and where the location was clearly chosen to maximise land value. This and another site to the south of the town are supposed to deliver 28 ‘affordable’ houses (but this is a fairly meaningless term and doesn’t mean that these houses will be affordable for local people by any means, or indeed that 28 will actually be delivered in reality as past experience shows). The example of the most recent housing estate to the south of the Town proves this – it is simply a ghetto of very expensive (but entirely uncharacteristic for north Norfolk) houses, most of which are either used as second homes and were priced well outside the ‘affordable’ range of the local population. There can be no justification for such a development in this area unless it is targeted entirely for local needs otherwise it simply becomes another such estate.
The NPPF clearly states that in AONBs, developments which are damaging should be resisted. This development is clearly in one if not the, most damaging location on the edge of the Town that it would be possible to choose.
To object to this development and or to register any comment on other aspects of the Local Plan, you should ideally ‘register’ with on the Council website (if you click on the link below the registration process can be started by selecting the tab at the top right of the screen ‘login / register’ with a key image) – although legally, the Council are obliged to accept any comments as equally valid as long as they are accompanied by your name and address – so email or even letter are (regardless of what is said on the webpage) valid and any attempt to ignore them would be illegal. The web page for the consultation is placed below together with a photograph taken from Wells Bank (about 500m north of the edge of the Town) showing the hillside location which would be developed in the proposals and the location plan from the Local Plan review. It is also well worth copying your comments to your Local Council Member (whose name and contact details can also be found on the Council Website) as if they know that you are concerned, they should raise this with the Officers and ultimately the Councillors themselves (through a Committee of some of them) will scrutinise and vote on the inclusions in the Plan, so they can choose to reject suggestions, especially when there are clear National Planning Policy guidelines that would indicate that this site should be so rejected.
Web page for the start of the Local Plan consultation document – containing all sections listed on the left of the screen. Look down for Section 19 for Wells
The extent of the development as seen from this point is indicated by the red line area – as it can clearly be seen, it will extend the line of the existing built development (even more visible from the rear of the Pine woods further to the west) – adding about 50% to the existing built appearance of the western side of Wells as seen from the Coast / Beach and Nature Reserve areas, and will be clearly visible from probably as far west as the area around Lady Anne’s Drive. One should remember that this will also include a large nocturnal impact as well – with street and window / exterior lights creating a considerable amount of light pollution into this area of the AONB. The location and extent of the new proposed 60 house estate is shown by the Pink area. The green area beside it is a sop to provide a so called ‘open space’ – this has to be provided to try to offset the impact of the damage that the additional persons in the new housing will impose on the nearby special and internationally protected wildlife areas of the Beach, Marsh and Holkham Dunes / pinewoods but is being sold as some kind of benefit when actually it would be a legally necessary planning mitigation provision.
Key points which you might want to reference in your response (if you wanted to object to the allocation of the 60 unit development) are;
The site will be entirely visible from and dominate a large stretch of the North Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
AONB (and National Parks) are given special mention in the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) document which indicates that proposals which will significantly harm the special qualities of these areas should be rejected by local planning authorities. Certainly this development will have significant, large scale and highly visually damaging impacts on the AONB. The Paragraph 172 of the NPPF states;
172. Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues. The conservation and enhancement of wildlife and cultural heritage are also important considerations in these areas, and should be given great weight in National Parks and the Broads2. The scale and extent of development within these designated areas should be limited. Planning permission should be refused for major development3 other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest. (our underlining)
The additional pressure that the new population to this 60 dwelling estate will place on the already overcrowded and increasingly damaged Special Protection Area, SSSIs, Special Area of Conservation and European Marine Site which are the highest nature conservation designations available, will be significant and will not be mitigated by the area of open space provided. This is contrary to national and local planning policy
The impact of the development on nocturnal ‘dark skies’ views in the area will be significant and damaging – this coastal strip is one of the few areas where the Northern Lights are visible in lowland Britain – not to mention the other wonderful night-time sky elements.
The additional traffic generated on Holkham Road will be significant and damaging
The Character of the Town – and particularly its western fringe and the adjacent coastal countryside will be significantly altered and damaged which will be contrary to the Policies in the Local Plan.
Past experience of large scale development in the Town has produced generic, ugly, uncharacteristic and unaffordable housing that has mostly gone to supply an insatiable ‘second home’ market which is unsustainable and unjustifiable in community development, local amenity value and economic development
If development were to be located on this site, it would require a massive amount of landscaping on the northern and western sides to buffer and screen the development from adjacent open views and landscapes – at least a 50m wide tree planting belt would be necessary as a minimum. Housing would not be able to profit from a view over the coast / countryside, and no attempt to orientate or sell it on that basis should be made.
If development were to be located on this site – Housing must be low level types not exceeding 1.5 stories in height to reduce the visual impacts. The ugly 2 – 3 story developments which have been proposed elsewhere in the area are not appropriate
Cromer – Land at Runton Road/ Clifton Park C07/1
Another site that is included in the Local Plan consultation is also considered to be damaging to the special qualities of the north Norfolk Coast – a large infill development between East Runton and Cromer – effectively removing the one remaining green space between these two settlements – thus at a stroke removing the last feature that gives the Village of East Runton an identity separate from Cromer and which recognises the importance of green open space on the coast in this area. Past Local Plans and the NNDC planning authority have resisted applications to include this area and develop it just for these very reasons but for no good reason, it seems to be seen as disposable now to sustain the strong migration into the area and the large demand for second homes. Reasons to object are similar to those for Wells in that it will
Generate a collosal amount of traffic through the Town of Cromer and village area fo East Runton (as all traffic will enter and exit the site via the Coast Road) – both these areas are beyond capacity for the road network to cope with and frequently become significant ‘jams’. The development is therefore unsustainable in transport terms
The development will have a significant adverse impact on the North Norfolk Coast AONB as although it is located just outside the boundary of the AONB, the rising land to the south and west is crossed by numbers of public rights of way and public open spaces (such as Incleborough Hill) which will have their views of the Coast – which is the characteristic defining element of the AONB – substantially adversely impacted by the development of this one remaining open green view of the coast
The development will significantly harm the individual characters of the settlements of Cromer and East Runton and make for a large ribbon of coastal sprawl development.
The development is neither needed nor sustainable
Blakeney – land to the east of Langham Road BLA04/1
Proposals for Blakeney are also considered potentially harmful with the development creeping out into open countryside to the south of the village and setting a precedent for the eventual development of more of a large open field to this prominent southern entrance to the village. The development that has recently occurred to the west of Langham Road is prominent and unattractive, it has a hard and uncharacteristic (for any organic, vernacular settlement in this part of north Norfolk) more or less open boundary and edge to the estate. This means that the housing appears as a stark intrusion into the landscape and is done so that purchaser’s of the houses have a ‘view’. This of course means that the public have a view of their unattractive and uncharacteristic houses. To prevent this happening, past developments in some areas have specified large scale planting belts. Developers don’t like these as they remove areas from development capacity (fewer houses / less profit) and remove views which add considerably to plot value as well. However it also locks in a development and helps to prevent the lever of ‘well its just an extension to an existing development’ allowing further development to happen.
Therefore the key objections to this development might be
Adverse impact on the entrance to the village as seen from Langham Road.
Adverse impacts on the North Norfolk Coast European Marine Site, Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection area from additional residents using and accessing the coast which is not offset by provision of alternative sustainable features such as open space.
The lack of appropriate and adequate screening on the southern and eastern sides which will require substantial 30m wide (minimum) tree belts to screen the development and the retention of the western boundary field hedge to retain this characteristic rural lane
No use of street or other outside lighting
Low level housing (not beyond 1.5 story height)