September 2 2014 Latest news:
By RICHARD BATSON
Thursday, June 26, 2014
A multi-storey plan to add 160 parking spaces to car-clogged Holt is being ditched by its businessman backer.
Michael Baker has dropped the £1m scheme after planners said the two-level structure on the town centre Budgens car park was likely to be turned down.
The managing director of the store has hit out at what he feels is a negative council attitude over a bid to help the shopping-Mecca town’s long-running lack of parking.
His project would have more than doubled the number of spaces on the current 125-slot ground parking area off Kerridge Way.
Mr Baker, who also heads the long-standing C T Baker business that includes the Bakers and Larners department store, said: “It is now binned and we are looking at other projects.
“Everybody is looking to help the economy and jobs and we were looking to invest £1m in a social project for the town but the council is telling us to go away.”
The company had what Mr Baker thought was a positive meeting with North Norfolk planning officers a month ago.
But a “horrendous” written report later said officials were likely to recommend refusal.
They aired concerns about potential harm to the local heritage and impact on the conservation area, set against the economic benefits.
But Mr Baker said the site was flanked by a modern store, a three-storey block of flats, shops and some holiday cottages.
The report also said the design - which used cladding to soften the look - was imposing, overbearing and overtly monolithic.
Suggestions of a smaller, lower building, could take the extra spaces down to just 60 which would be uneconomic to develop, he added.
Mr Baker, who is a member of the North Norfolk District Council, earlier complained about facing a £20,000 fee to lodge the paperwork and said officials at neighbouring Broadland council had been much more helpful when he developed a builders’ merchants there.
North Norfolk District Council’s cabinet member for planning, Benjie Cabbell-Manners, said Mr Baker was “welcome to apply for planning permission for his scheme” but stressed that “should he wish to do so this would be decided by the development committee, not officers.”