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Council poised to give green light over Pontins homes despite objections

PUBLISHED: 17:41 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:41 04 July 2019

The latest masterplan for Pontins in Hemsby is being recommended for approval Photo: Northern Trust

The latest masterplan for Pontins in Hemsby is being recommended for approval Photo: Northern Trust

Northern Trust

A 190-home scheme for a decaying holiday park is being backed by planners, despite a string of objections.

An aerial photo of the former Pontins site at Hemsby, captured with a DJI drone, as fire crews deal with the blaze. Picture: Simon CarterAn aerial photo of the former Pontins site at Hemsby, captured with a DJI drone, as fire crews deal with the blaze. Picture: Simon Carter

The scheme aims to clear the former Pontins site at Hemsby and build mainly detached family homes, shops, and a 50-unit caravan park off Beach Road. Officers are recommending approval and say some issues raised, like a lack of capacity in local schools, can be resolved through conditions and financial contributions.

The application previously came before planners in 2016 and will be debated by the development control committee on Wednesday.

Three years ago members said they were minded to refuse, tagging the scheme "unneighbourly", but the decision notice was never issued and no legal action was raised by the applicant Northern Trust.

The revised application sees the community facilities element dropped and smaller retail units proposed.

The former pontins site in Hemsby following an arson attack in August. Picture: Mick HowesThe former pontins site in Hemsby following an arson attack in August. Picture: Mick Howes

Objectors, including Hemsby Parish Council and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, are adamant the land should be retained for holiday use, pointing to recent local investment in accommodation proving confidence in Hemsby.

The site, which closed in 2008, has been a magnet for vandals with figures revealed by this newspaper showing fire crews were called there 14 times in the last five years.

Documents released on the borough council's website ahead of the meeting say the outline application on a brownfield site ticks most of the boxes required for approval.

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They say the site, while still earmarked for prime holiday accommodation in the local plan, has been identified as ripe for development in the emerging part 2 of the blueprint.

The report also says the applicant had made efforts to market the site for tourism use but there "was not realistic potential".

More than 150 objections were received over the two consultations.

Norfolk County Council said in total some 332 homes (including Pontins) were being built in the area and would put pressure on local schools.

Hemsby Primary, it noted, had no space to expand and while there was more room in Ormesby some £780,000 would need to be asked for to meet demand.

MP Brandon Lewis, writing in July 2018, said the scheme was "disproportionate" asking the committee to stand up for the people of Hemsby.

One response in favour of the homes said opposition was fuelled by a rose-tinted "hi-de-hi" nostalgia.

On balance the report decides: "In summary, the proposal would enable a site which has been derelict for nearly ten years (and is getting in an ever-worse state as time goes by), with seemingly very little prospect of being viably re-occupied or re-developed for largely tourism use, to be re-developed to provide much-needed housing (market and affordable), along with some space for tourism caravans. No significant harms have been identified, and where harms exist, it is concluded that they can be satisfactorily controlled."

At one time the site was touted as a location for an Eden Project-style camping hub.

A proposal for a veteran's village put forward in March gained a groundswell of local support.

The committee meets on Wednesday, July 10, at 6.30pm in the council chamber.

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