Planning permission looks set to be granted for the final stages of a £30m regeneration of Hillington Square in King’s Lynn, despite some objections.
Freebridge Community Housing began the ambitious project in 2012 and around 190 flats, across four blocks, have been completely refurbished so far.
In a change of approach, the housing provider is seeking permission to demolish the remaining untouched blocks, near All Saints Church and All Saints Street, and build replacement homes in their place.
As well as new flats, the plans include a row of town houses fronting All Saints Street and around the corner into Bridge Street, each with a garden.
Under the plans, the existing cafe would be lost, but a larger, multi-use community space is proposed.
The scheme would increase the number of car parking spaces from 39 to 61 and bring 86 cycle spaces.
Work to improve the communal entrance area in Millfleet is to be finished and there are plans to re-establish the graveyard boundary at the centre of the estate.
West Norfolk Council’s planning committee is recommended to approve the application at a meeting on Monday, but concerns have been raised about the scale and mass of the development.
The site is not within a conservation area, but it borders others and there are a number of listed buildings nearby, including the grade II*-listed church itself.
There have been 78 objections to the scheme, including some from members of the All Saints Street and Bridge Street Residents’ Association, and several repeat objections, with 37 letters coming from a single person, the committee will hear.
The representations to the council include concerns over the impact of the development on the historic area, including on the church, parking, traffic, loss of light and privacy and potential anti-social behaviour.
A report supporting the application said the “contemporary but sympathetic” application had been supported by Historic England, but two rounds of “carefully considered” amendments had been made to the scheme “centring mainly around sensitivity to the historic context”, including reducing the size of some buildings.
The town houses are more “appropriately scaled” than the four-storey blocks and re-establish “the type of dwellings and street layout that would have been found historically” and provide much-needed larger family homes with gardens for tenants, the report said.
Objecting to the application, deputy West Norfolk Mayor Lesley Bambridge, council member for St Margaret’s with St Nicholas ward, described the design as “utilitarian and unattractive”.
“I am very disappointed to see that, despite some changes to the original plans, the revised plans do not consider overall the height, mass and density of the development and the harm it will have on the location as well as on the nearby buildings themselves, which are built in flimsy foundations or even none at all,” Ms Bambridge said.
“When are we going to give people something they would be proud to live in? Why don’t they deserve some style and something that reflects the heritage we are so proud of in King’s Lynn?”
“Why don’t we consider the residents who keep up that heritage at their own cost?”
The Conservation Advisory Panel objected, saying the scheme was “still too high” and the design “not good enough.”
King’s Lynn Civic Society did not object, but made several criticisms of the scheme, suggesting the drawing board had been “effectively wiped clean”, but the proposed re-build was a missed opportunity to improve the site.
Historic England said Hillington Square was “broadly content” with the proposals and said the design would help to give the church greater “breathing space” from the other buildings.
In a report to the committee, council officers concluded the scheme would “optimise the site potential”, while “protecting and enhancing” the historic environment.
“The demolition of these outdated flats and the redevelopment with modern, energy efficient dwellings, with improved facilities, reflects local plan policy relating to sustainability and can be supported,” the report said.
“The aims of the scheme, which include improving the setting of the grade II*-listed All Saints Church, improving the standard of the accommodation and the quality of the external environment and increasing connectivity are supported.”
The meeting is due to be held at 10am on Monday.