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Campaigners await outcome of public inquiry over plans to build 200 new homes in Sculthorpe near Fakenham

PUBLISHED: 17:28 05 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:28 05 May 2017

Campaigners gathered to greet the planning inspector on the final day of the inquiry. Picture: Steve Shaw

Campaigners gathered to greet the planning inspector on the final day of the inquiry. Picture: Steve Shaw

Archant

Campaigners fighting controversial plans to double the size of a village with 200 new homes face a nervous wait for the outcome of a planning inquiry.

Amstel Group Corporation appealed against the decision of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) to refuse planning permission for the homes in Sculthorpe, near Fakenham.

A six-day public inquiry concluded on Thursday when the planning inspector visited the potential development site.

He was greeted by villagers who gathered to reinforce their objections by holding banners and posters with the words ‘Save Our Sculthorpe’ emblazoned across them.

It is a mantra that has become part of the community ever since Amstel Group Corporation submitted their plans for the 200 new homes and a school in 2015.

Now nearly every household in Sculthorpe has a poster brandishing the slogan in their window, and large boards greet visitors with the message ‘say No to Indigo’ scrawled across them, referencing the company that has appealed on behalf of Amstel.

Campaigners said they hoped the inspector would take away a stronger understanding of how extensive the objections are.

Amongst them was NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick who said: “This development is contrary to the council’s plans for sustainability. I support building new homes but it is important that they are in the right place and built to plan.”

He added: “If built it could also affect the viability of a development not far from here in Fakenham, which is sustainable and is part of a plan.”

The initial proposal for 200 homes made by Amstel was rejected in 2016 after NNDC said it was unsustainable.

But the company argued that the decision does not reflect the needs of the region which, according to their research, needs more homes. They also said that Sculthorpe would benefit from a new school.

It is expected to be between two and three months before a final decision on the appeal is reached. If it rules in favour of NNDC Indigo will have the opportunity to take their case to the high court.

Brian Watkins, chairman of campaign group, Save Sculthorpe, said: “They’ve spent a lot of money on this so if it is not in their favour they may well take it further.”

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