After a lengthy debate at the planning committee this morning I am delighted to report that the Councillors unanimously refused to grant planning permission for the two giant wind turbines proposed next to the former RAF Colitshall.
The Councillors agreed with the officers that the Ministry of Defence’s concerns about the impact on the Trimingham radar were a reason for refusal but I also argued that the impact on heritage assets such as the airbase conservation area and listed buidlings and the impact on landscape were also ground for refusal, as was the prejudice that these turbines would have had on any potential future aviation use of the airbase. I am pleased to say that the Councillors also accepted all three issues as also being reasons for refusal.
We must now wait to see whether the applicant will appeal.
If there has been one thing keeping me busy over the last couple of months it has been the application for two 126m high wind-turbines to the west of the B1150 in Scottow.
Air defence radar at Trimingham, which the MoD says will be adversely affected by the turbines.
These enormous turbines (to put them in perspective Norwich Cathedral Spire is only 90m high) have caused a lot of concern locally for many reasons. Personally, I am particularly concerned about the impact that the turbines might have on any future aviation use of the the airbase given how close to the runway they are.
In any event, the Ministry of Defence has objected to the planning application because the turbines will have a detrimental effect on the air defence radar at Trimingham. On this basis, the officers are recommending to Planning Committee that the application should be refused because of the impact on national security.
Clearly no planning application that threatens the security of the UK can be approved and so I hope that planning committee members will agree with officers when they meet next week. I shall be at the meeting on 11 April in order to speak on behalf of local people and to support the recommendation of refusal.
The special meeting of Scottow Parish Council on Wednesday gave local people the opportunity to comment on the planning applications for a solar farm and for the conversion of the Three Horseshoes pub to housing.
Those attending were opposed to the solar farm and the Parish Council has decided to object to the planning application. While there were lots of criticisms of the proposal the key concern related to the impact of the proposal on the landscape and I made the point to the applicant’s planning consultants, who were at the meeting, that there was very little information about landscaping included with the application. The planning consultants accepted this and promised to give more detail on this. I was also critical of the applicant’s decision to not carry-out any pre-application consultation and no explanation of this was forthcoming.
Many people also questioned why there is a proposal to turn agricultural land into a solar farm at the same time as the County Council is proposing to turn much of the former airbase back to agriculture. As I said at the meeting however, this is not a reason that the planning officers and planning committee may take into account. The only thing that they can consider is whether this planning application is acceptable, not whether there is a better place for it.
When discussion turned to the Three Horseshoes application every single member of the public left the meeting, leaving the Parish Councillors to discuss the matter on their own. Their view was that given the problems with antisocial behaviour that have surrounded the pub for the last few years, they were supportive of the proposal to turn the building into housing.
Both applications will now be considered by the Council’s planning officers and I shall keep you all updated.
Scottow residents may be interested to know that the Parish Council has called an extraordinary meeting for tomorrow night to consider the planning applications for a solar farm and for the conversion of the Three Horseshoes pub.
The meeting is at 7pm at the Rugby Club and I would urge everyone to attend if they want their views on these two important planning applications to be heard.
I hope to see you all there.
The death of the Leader of the North Norfolk District Council, Keith Johnson, and his wife Andrea over the weekend in such terrible circumstances have shocked many people, including the residents of Cromer where they were such a well know and popular couple.
Keith and Andrea were good friends and it is going to take some time for me to come to terms with what has happened but life must go on and as you may have seen from press reports Tom Fitzpatrick has been elected as the new leader of the Conservative Group on the Council and will be proposed as the new Leader of the District Council at our next meeting on 19 December.
Tom has been a hardworking member of the cabinet since last May and I know Keith relied on him as his deputy and so I am sure that he will make a great leader, even if the circumstances of his appointment are not what he or anyone else would have wanted.
I am delighted to have today added my support to the planning application that has been submitted by the school for a new classroom to provide pre-school facilities in the village.
A pre-school will help attract new children, which will in turn help to keep the school viable. At a time when too many of our rural schools are seeing declining numbers of pupils, our local school is growing and we need to make sure that this success continues.
Norfolk County Council are due to decide the application very soon.
The Big Society Fund has been up and running for six months now and is on track to give almost £500,000 to local groups this year.
The fund uses the income received by the District Council from the increase in the amount of Council Tax charged on second homes and is available to support local community projects. So far projects have included new changing rooms for North Walsham Town Football Club, a project to enable Stalham Brass Band to work with local schools to encourage young people to take-up music and contributions to building new skateparks in Cromer, Sheringham and Wells.
So far there have been no applications from groups based in Scottow, Sloley, Smallburgh or Tunstead so we are missing out! If you are involved with a local group please do get in touch to find out whether the Big Society Fund can help with your project. Alternatively you can find out more here.