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Leadership change brings forward rethink on Parkway

A blueprint of a house with a ruler and pencil lying across it.

Published: Friday, 4th June 2021

A new or amended planning application is set to be submitted for a housing development only, on the former College of West Anglia site off Parkway, in King's Lynn, if agreed by Cabinet and Council.

The move, for the site in Gaywood, follows a review of the existing Parkway development scheme, requested by the new leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, Cllr Stuart Dark, MBE, and his cabinet.

The revised proposal would replace the recently approved scheme for 379 homes, with a scheme which would only be built on the western side of the site, the site that has already been allocated for a development of some 260 homes in the local plan. There would be no development on the eastern side of the site of either homes, roads or the road bridge. This new plan, once drawn up, would be promptly submitted for planning permission and would be considered on its own merits through that process, which would include a further period public consultation.

Cllr Stuart Dark, Leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, said: "When I took on this role I said we would be reviewing our major plans and projects to ensure they are the right things to do, given how much the world has changed over the last 15 months or so. We want to be sure that all projects are in tune with our key, clearly defined priorities of supporting people and our communities (in this case building homes for local people), nurturing our environment and effectively managing council finances, as the latter allows us to continue delivering the services on which we all rely."

"We asked officers to review this major scheme so that it could be brought before Cabinet without delay, given its scale, the critical stage of the process we are currently at and the amount of public interest in it. We are still committed to delivering much-needed and affordable housing in King's Lynn and throughout this review will be looking to retain as many high quality, energy-efficient homes as possible, just contained within the western, allocated site."

Officers were asked to look at whether the current approved scheme would deliver on the outcomes originally envisaged, including accessibility and the balance of costs to benefits. A recent updated costing for the construction of the bridge has resulted in a negative impact on the cost/benefit of the original scheme. A further report will be presented to the next Cabinet meeting which will detail the costings of the revised proposal.

Cllr Richard Blunt, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, explained: "Planning committee considered the original application and determined to recommend approval, based on its planning merits alone. There is a frequent misconception that planning committee can consider wider matters such as the viability of a scheme, but its function is only to ensure that any proposed scheme from a developer meets all planning policy requirements both local and national. In instances like this, where the Council is the developer it is then for Cabinet and Council to determine whether after approval is granted, it is right to actually develop the scheme. If Cabinet and Council decide that the scheme needs to be amended as per the officer recommendations in this report, then it is quite normal for the council, like any other developer, to submit a new application or to amend the existing application. Any new or amended application would again need to be determined against national and local planning policy and approved or rejected on its own merits."

Cllr Paul Kunes, Cabinet Member for Environment, added: "Our plan would still be to retain all the green credentials of the original scheme which far exceed both current and proposed planning legislation, making the potential development our greenest ever and an example for others to emulate. Our fabric-first approach would see each new home on this development being built with air source heat pumps and underfloor heating to maximise their efficiency and minimise their impact on the environment. Homes where roofs are aligned with the sun will have photo voltaic panels installed. Parking spaces will be electric charging ready, with ducts and draw strings laid, and garages will have electric vehicle charging points installed. Our intention is also to encourage walking and cycling by improving the footpath and cyclepath links. We will also install bus stops and work with local bus companies to ensure the areas forms part of the public transport network."

The recommendations that Cabinet are being asked to agree are that development as set out in the current planning application, which planning committee resolved to approve, does not proceed and that a new or amended application is submitted on the Local Plan allocated site only and that additional focus is placed on active travel, enhanced cycle and footpaths and connectivity issues.

If these recommendations are approved the report will then go to full council on 8 July 2021.

Details of the potential revised scheme are not available at this point, as this proposal needs to worked up before being submitted for planning permission.

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