I have received an email from Mr Barry Meadows of the Friends of North Lodge Park relating to the proposed car park. It is reproduced below.
“The Elephant in the Room
The proposed car park planning application continues to take much of our time, time we would rather spend on positive plans. Over the past month we have continued to challenge the NNDC planning process in an attempt to understand why due process isn’t being followed by the planning system and to raise our concerns regarding the design of the proposed car park – the design really isn’t fit for purpose.
Since we first raised our concerns NNDC have been cobbling together some un-substantive reports and are adamant they are doing all they have to do to get the permission they seek. What they could never deny is that the application has been rushed together, not been thought through and does not meet best practice. Let us hope the car park they are intent on building is not of similar poor quality. Have you seen the plastic grid car-park at NNDC’s own offices?
There is still time to comment on the application. The consultation period for the application has been extended to 8th December (to allow for the ‘consolidation’ of comments) and the hope is that when the proposal (finally) gets to the development committee (scheduled for 15th December) sense will prevail and the application will be refused.
NNDC have made it clear that no revenue from the car park will go towards the Park. If you only support the application if revenue monies will go to the Park you need to object to the application – caveats in any comments will not be considered in the process.
You can see details of our design concerns on our website – there are 19 points of concern, all of which we think need to be addressed before the car park design is suitable.
One of our major concerns is the impact of the car park on traffic flow around Cromer, which is difficult at the best of times. The introduction of a new car park on a route where through traffic is discouraged will have a major impact on traffic flow however it is decided to route it (there are no details on this in the application).
Traffic into Cromer from the east, from Norwich and Overstrand, is currently directed down Norwich Road, and discouraged from using Overstrand Road (although we all know many cars ‘jump’ the bus lane into Cromer). We have asked the following questions but not received answers:
How will traffic be directed to the car park? How will cars leave the car park?
How will cars unable to find a space in the car park be directed to other car parks?
How many on street parking spaces will be removed to enable traffic flow to the car park and what is the impact of this on the justification to improve the viability of the east end of Cromer? (The only published justification for the car park is increased parking spaces for the east end of Cromer, but if Overstrand Road, Cromwell Road and Cliff Avenue are all to lose free on street places there will actually be a reduction in total available spaces.)
The Statuary Highways Assessment of the proposal stated that before any works are commenced a full traffic plan is required – we just hope it is produced before the development committee assess the planning application as it is key to the success of the proposal.
It’s not a vacant brownfield site
Incorrectly the planning application calls the old children’s play area a vacant brownfield site (National Planning Policy Framework specifically excludes parks from the definition of Brownfield Land.) and makes no mention of the fact the site is open space, public realm and in a conservation area.
In addition, the dilapidated state of the existing area is being used as justification for this proposal on the basis that it is an improvement (National Planning Policy Framework states that where there has been deliberate neglect, a state of dilapidation should not be taken into account in allowing permission for something that would otherwise be unacceptable) implying that there aren’t any other options that would be an improvement. Both NNDC’s in-house consultees, the conservation officer and the landscape officer, have quoted the state of neglect as part of their account of justification of the car park
What would you prefer to see there, that would be an improvement to how it looks? Examples:
A Multi-use games area would be an improvement, and provide a space for teenagers to use
A cycle riding road system for learning to ride and for fun cycle based activities (the old bandstand could be a cycle repair centre)
The concrete could be replaced with grass for informal games
A crazy golf circuit could be created
The old dodgem based cars could be dug out of store
The bandstand could be returned to its designed use for concerts or outdoor theatre
A roller skating rink (ice skating in the winter?)
A wildflower meadow, maybe with a bug hotel, bird feeders, hedgehog house etc to attract wildlife
A plant nursery
A ‘food for free’ community garden
What ideas do you have?
The exhibitions of the Play Park proposals at the end of October went very well with over 250 of you passing through and almost 100 evaluation forms completed. The vast majority of you were really supportive, and you liked some elements in all the proposals. We’re really pleased that Cromer Junior School are also providing feedback on the play elements.
We’ve analysed your comments, and fed the results into our assessment of the proposals. There was no clear choice that matched all the criteria.
We have asked 2 of the suppliers to update their proposals to take into account our feedback and have asked for these to be returned by the end of November so that we can submit a planning application this year. Our priorities for the project now are fund-raising and resolving the maintenance/sustainability of the proposed play park.
Crepes and Cakes
Don’t forget the cafe in the Park will be open right through the winter, six days a week (closed Mondays) from 10am to 4pm.
It’s your community cafe so please let us know what you would like to see in the cafe, and how you would like it to develop. The team of volunteers, in the cafe and baking the wonderful cakes, work so hard to keep the cafe open and the quality high. On your behalf I pass on all our thanks to them for their efforts – it would be even better if you popped into thank them yourselves. And why not volunteer yourself? We’re always looking for new helpers to join the team.
And the park wouldn’t look so good without the small army of volunteer gardeners who beaver away in all weathers. Again, on your behalf I pass on all our thanks to them for their efforts.
Hope to see you all soon
Elephant Trainer (failed).”