Homes for former Pontins site in Hemsby?

THE prospect of homes being built on the former Hemsby Pontins site has reared its head again after new proposals by the landowners.

At a series of meetings with council representatives and business owners, Northern Trust put forward early-stage ideas for the land, which is currently protected for tourism use.

And included were suggestions for a housing-only use, or a two-thirds housing to one-third caravan site use.

The news follows a heated public meeting in March last year during which concerned residents and traders demanded something be done with the derelict site.

However despite local excitement over an “Eden Project of the East” vacation homes proposal, Northern Trust say despite advertising the beachside plot they have “not received any offers”.

Charles Reynolds, chairman of Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s development control committee, was present at the latest meeting, last month.

Mr Reynolds described an all-residential option, involving 190 houses, as “a complete no-no” and emphasised the “ball is very much in Northern Trust’s court”. He said: “Discussions are still at very early stages, and we’ve explained to them it’s certainly prime holiday area and they will be coming back with some more ideas and put something on paper.”

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However, he was more open to mixed use suggestion, which had included 130 homes and a caravan site of 100 units.

He added: “There may be grounds for accepting if the whole site is not going to be viable [for tourism use]. I would love to see it as a holiday centre again but it’s whether we can sustain numbers for such a large site.”

“Over the last few years, while Pontins was open, numbers were nowhere what was needed to cover the accommodation.”

Following the closure of the resort suddenly in January 2009, earlier housing proposals divided opinion and were met with fierce resistance from some quarters.

Also present at one of the meetings was borough councillor George Jermany. He felt more could be done to advertise to potential buyers, including putting up a For Sale sign outside the site.

He said: “I think they’re saving it for housing. They’re making all the right sounds in terms of looking after the population but you can look at other areas where they’re involved.”

Another Northern Trust-owned site in Blackpool, also previously a Pontins, was approved for 275 homes last year.

A spokesman for Northern Trust said: “We held meetings with representatives of the parish council, local businesses, council officers and others last week. We have been marketing this site [Hemsby] for a wide range of tourism and leisure uses over two years but, unfortunately, we have not received any offers.

“We are currently working on viable options which would enable regeneration and provide a boost to the local economy.”

Simon Middleton’s company Norfolk Leisure Ltd had come up with plans to create a dome-shaped “Eden Project of the East” eco-tourism project on the Hemsby site last year. However, Mr Middleton pulled out, blaming a price dispute with the landowners.