New homes on site of former Pontins holiday park given green light
PUBLISHED: 10:08 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:32 11 July 2019
Controversial proposals to build nearly 200 homes on the site of a derelict holiday park have been approved.
The scheme, which will see 190 homes, shops and a 50-unit caravan park created on the former Pontins site at Hemsby, was given the green light by Great Yarmouth Borough Council's (GYBC) development control committee on Wednesday.
Objections had been lodged by residents, Hemsby Parish Council and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis - all adamant the land should be retained for holiday use.
Concerns were also raised over the strain on local schools and Norfolk County Council highlighted the need for a £780,000 investment to provide extra places.
But just one member refused the plan, with several committee members citing Hemsby's survival without the holiday park as an important consideration.
"We're not surprised, but we are devastated and await to see the impact," said Kim McAdoo, chairman of Hemsby Action Group, which campaigned fervently against the scheme.
"What the councillors didn't understand is that, even though we've survived without Pontins, changing a tourism and leisure designation is going to cause a domino-effect.
"How many other sites are going to try to do the same?"
The application previously came before planners in 2016, when committee members said they were minded to refuse on the grounds the proposal was "unneighbourly".
However, the decision notice was never issued and no legal action raised by the applicant, Northern Trust.
Three years later, a revised application saw community facilities dropped and smaller retail units proposed instead.
Since closing in 2008, the site has been a magnet for vandals and figures revealed by this newspaper show firefighters were called there 14 times in the last five years.
Hemsby resident and borough councillor James Bensly, who spoke at the meeting, said he was "massively concerned" about the potential impact on tourism.
"GYBC has always been seen as a spearhead when it comes to safeguarding tourism," said Mr Bensby. "Other councils have looked at us and wished they had policy in place to stop developments like this.
"This decision is very corrosive to that policy and gives the impression that, if a tourism business closes down, chances are a decade later you're likely to get planning permission. For me, that's a really scary precedent."