Plans for a major housing development in Gaywood are set to be scaled back and a new road scrapped in a council u-turn announced today (Friday).
West Norfolk Council approved the authority’s own application for 379 homes off Parkway, plus a road bridge linking the new estate to the Hardwick Industrial Estate, at a special meeting in April.
The 48-acre split site is made up of parkland, reed bed, scrub land and fields and there was opposition to the loss of open space and wildlife habitat.
Stuart Dark, who became council leader last month, requested a review of the Parkway scheme and now a “new or amended” application is set to be submitted for a homes only development.
If approved, the revised scheme would be built on only the western side of the site, the area which has already been allocated for a development of 260 homes in the local plan.
“There would be no development on the eastern side of the site of either homes, roads or the road bridge,” a council spokesman said.
“This new plan, once drawn up, would be promptly submitted for planning permission and would be considered on its own merits through that process, which would include a further period public consultation.
“A recent updated costing for the construction of the bridge has resulted in a negative impact on the cost/benefit of the original scheme.”
Cabinet is being asked to agree that the approved scheme does not go ahead and that a new or amended application is submitted on the Local Plan allocated site only, with extra focus on active travel, enhanced cycle and footpaths and connectivity issues.
If the recommendations are approved, the report will then go to full council for final approval on Thursday, July 8.
Mr Dark said: “When I took on this role I said we would be reviewing our major plans and projects to ensure they are the right things to do, given how much the world has changed over the last 15 months or so.
“We want to be sure all projects are in tune with our key, clearly defined priorities of supporting people and our communities (in this case building homes for local people), nurturing our environment and effectively managing council finances, as the latter allows us to continue delivering the services on which we all rely.
“We asked officers to review this major scheme so it could be brought before cabinet without delay, given its scale, the critical stage of the process we are currently at and the amount of public interest in it.
“We are still committed to delivering much-needed and affordable housing in King’s Lynn and throughout this review will be looking to retain as many high quality, energy-efficient homes as possible, just contained within the western, allocated site.”
Details of the replacement scheme are still being drawn-up, ready for a new planning application.
Richard Blunt, cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: “Planning committee considered the original application and determined to recommend approval, based on its planning merits alone.
“There is a frequent misconception that planning committee can consider wider matters such as the viability of a scheme, but its function is only to ensure any proposed scheme from a developer meets all planning policy requirements both local and national.
“In instances like this, where the council is the developer it is then for cabinet and council to determine whether after approval is granted, it is right to actually develop the scheme.
“If cabinet and council decide that the scheme needs to be amended as per the officer recommendations in this report, then it is quite normal for the council, like any other developer, to submit a new application or to amend the existing application.
“Any new or amended application would again need to be determined against national and local planning policy and approved or rejected on its own merits.”
Paul Kunes, cabinet member for environment, said the council hoped to make the development its “greenest ever”.
“Our plan would still be to retain all the green credentials of the original scheme which far exceed both current and proposed planning legislation, making the potential development our greenest ever and an example for others to emulate,” he added.
“Our fabric-first approach would see each new home on this development being built with air source heat pumps and underfloor heating to maximise their efficiency and minimise their impact on the environment.
“Homes where roofs are aligned with the sun will have photo voltaic panels installed. Parking spaces will be electric charging ready, with ducts and draw strings laid, and garages will have electric vehicle charging points installed.
“Our intention is also to encourage walking and cycling by improving the footpath and cycle path links. We will also install bus stops and work with local bus companies to ensure the areas forms part of the public transport network.”
The original site was described by objectors as “King’s Lynn’s last truly wild place”.
A Save Lynn’s Wild Woodland and Wetland online petition was signed by more than 2,500 people, including actor Stephen Fry, and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Extinction Rebellion protested against the development.