Major expansion of town bringing 950 new homes gets go ahead

A plan of how the new Fakenham development could look.

A plan of how the new Fakenham development could look. The pub and hotel would be in the north-west corner (dark blue) the school and shops would be in the centre (in purple and yellow) - Credit: NNDC/Planning documents

One of the biggest transformations in Fakenham’s thousand-year history is set to go ahead.

Councillors at North Norfolk District Council have given the green light for plans to build 950 homes, a 100-bedroom hotel, a pub, shops and school on a swathe of land to the town’s north. 

But although a vote on the scheme - put forward by Cambridge’s Trinity College - passed by 11 votes to two, councillors expressed dismay at its low level of affordable housing and renewable energy requirements.   

The plans, which have been in the pipeline for almost a decade, will see 114 acres of land between Rudham Stile Lane and the A148 become what in effect would be a new suburb, potentially swelling Fakenham’s population by 20pc to around 10,000.

The decision on the Fakenham development zoom meeting

The decision on the Fakenham development was made during a North Norfolk District Council development committee meeting held via Zoom. - Credit: NNDC

Just 16.5pc of the houses on the site - to be built over the next decade - will be required to be affordable, meaning they would be rented out as social housing or sold at below market rates. 

Christopher Cushing, a ward councillor for Fakenham and planning committee member, was among those who were in favour of the scheme at the December 10 decision meeting, held via Zoom.

Mr Cushing said: “This is one of those significant decisions in the 1,000-year history of Fakenham. 

Christopher Cushing, the new Conservative leader for North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLI

Christopher Cushing, the new Conservative leader for North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE - Credit: Archant

“I am fully supportive of the proposal in outline.”

Mr Cushing said he particularly liked the green wedges and ‘pocket parks’ included in the design.

“We have a real opportunity to create an estate of beauty,” he said.

But Mr Cushing echoed concerns expressed by Fakenham Town Council that the development needed to be integrated with the rest of the town so it “did not become a rival to the town centre”. 

A condition for the approval was that 10pc of the site’s energy demand be generated from on-site renewable technologies.

At the meeting, planning officer Rob Parkinson admitted this was due to a mistake - according to council policy it should have been 20pc as the plans involved more than 100 homes. 

MORE: Decision day for huge Fakenham development looms

Mr Parkinson said: “To be quite honest, we missed the fact it should be 20pc. At the stage where we realised that error the costings had gone through the viability assessment and it was considered that it would be unreasonable to go back and require that 20pc when the developer had expected 10pc.”

An agent for the developer said more affordable homes could be included if the renewable energy proportion was kept lower, and although the 10pc figure was agreed to, several councillors expressed their objections.

Councillor Wendy Fredericks said she was “flabbergasted” the figure was so low.

Wendy Fredericks, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mundesley in the 2019 North Norfolk District Counci

Wendy Fredericks, a member of the North Norfolk District Council development committee. - Credit: Supplied by Wendy Fredericks

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She said: “As for using renewable energy as a bargaining chip, I find that very disappointing. Air source heat pumps have come along in leaps and bounds and can be attached to every single home. I really can’t understand why you wouldn’t do that in such a huge block of housing.”

Nigel Lloyd, another planning committee member, also said the proposal fell short environmentally.

North Norfolk District Council member Nigel Lloyd

North Norfolk District Council member Nigel Lloyd - Credit: Archant

Mr Lloyd said “The climate change aspects of this just don’t stack up for me - to say we can have more affordable housing if we drop the renewable energy measures. I think all companies have a huge responsibility on climate change. 

“It’s going to affect our district more than most and I really would have expected better.”

Land for the hotel and pub are on the north-west corner of the site. A two-form entry primary school will sit roughly in the middle of the estate, across from a row of shops and neighbourhood centre.

There will be several stretches of green space running roughly north-east to south-west to break up the housing and provide pedestrian/cycleways into the rest of the town. 

Another condition of approval was that the developer pay for indoor sports facilities and provide a number of other contributions under a Section 106 agreement.

There is also required to be a travel plan to deal with concerns about congestion and to ensure easy access between the estate and the town centre.

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