Proposals for a major homes and road development in Gaywood was given the thumbs up at a special planning meeting reconvened today (Thursday).
The meeting started at 9.30am and concluded at 2.30pm after much debate with 11 votes for and six against the council’s application.
The recommendation from planning officers had been approval subject to conditions.
West Norfolk Council is seeking planning permission for 379 homes on land off Parkway, plus a new road bridge linking the new estate to Rollesby Road on the Hardwick Industrial Estate.
The application, which includes 57 affordable properties, was submitted in last May following a public consultation held online due to Covid.
Gaywood and the Fairstead estate would be linked by the development, to “create one new community”, the council said at the time.
The 48-acre site is made up of parkland, reed bed, scrub land and open fields.
It includes the field next to King’s Lynn Academy (KLA) in Queen Mary Road, land behind the skate park and a rectangular plot between Plantation Wood and the industrial estate.
A report to committee said the development would bring benefits including “significant infrastructure improvements,” areas of open space and an improved play area and multi-use games area.
A Save Lynn’s Wild Woodland and Wetland online petition has been signed by around 2,600 people, including actor Stephen Fry, and the council has received more than 200 letters of objection, with particular concern for breeding birds and protected species.
King’s Lynn Civic Society and West Norfolk Green Party have also objected, raising concerns about the loss of public open space which is “well-used by the community,” mature trees and wildlife habitat.
Extinction Rebellion King’s Lynn and West Norfolk held a protest at the site on Saturday, calling for the green space to be saved.
But Natural England and the council’s arboricultural officer have raised no objection to the development, which would be built in 12 phases.
Officers have said the application would “deliver good quality, and much-needed, new market and affordable housing in a highly sustainable location.”
A special meeting to discuss the application was abandoned on March 31 amid concerns about council procedure.
Under law, the agenda should have been published at least five clear days in advance of the meeting.
Yesterday’s meeting heard from a number of speakers and councillors asked many questions.
Concern was raised by some speakers about wildlife habitats, important reed beds, trees, flood risk and fears the proposed road bridge would encourage traffic and create a “rat run”.
Cllr Charles Joyce said there needed to be something in place that no brick was laid until the bridge was built otherwise rat runs would be created in other busy town roads.
During the debate, Nicole Wright pointed out there had been no statutory objections to the plan which she said had been “robustly prepared” and was “fully justified”.
Committee chairman Chris Crofts said he felt the road and bridge would be a “massive improvement” for the Hardwick area and that Norfolk County Council would make sure it wasn’t used by heavy vehicles. He felt it would be a “godsend” in that area.
Some councillors felt the proposal should have been split into two applications, east and west, but it was pointed out the application for debate was for the whole site.