Agenda item

CROMER - PF/23/1761- Demolition of former bandstand and storage building; Redevelopment of former tennis courts consisting of erection of 2no. public toilet buildings, community food hub, community shed building, community horticultural hub building, 2no. curved walls with canopy for entertainment space, multi-use space for pop-up market stalls/leisure activities and associated on-site car/cycle parking, associated fencing, planting and vehicular and pedestrian access points at North Lodge Park Overstrand Road, Cromer.


Officers Report

The PO-AW introduced the Officers report and recommendation for approval. It was noted that a similar application had previously been submitted and considered at Development Committee in June which had been deferred. This application had subsequently been withdrawn and resubmitted as PF/23/1761 with several design alterations.

The PO-AW outlined the context of North Lodge Park, a designated area of public realm and open space in policy terms. The park forms part of the setting of the Grade II listed North Lodge, the former tennis courts and bandstand are considered an accessory to the heritage asset. The site comprised of a 1950’s brick-built bandstand and large concreted slab, both have been unused for several years and have fallen into a state of disrepair, although the concreted area remains level and in reasonable condition.

The Case Officer detailed the key aspects of the application including changing places toilets, the entertainment space, horticultural hub containing a greenhouse store and potting area, the community shed, and community food bank. Vehicular access was provided from Carriage Drive along the western boundary of the site.

With respect of design, the PO-AW noted that most of the structures proposed were temporary in nature and would be low impact sitting above the existing hardstanding. Whilst concerns had been raised in public representations with regards to the Open Land designation of the site, it is recognised by officers that whilst the proposal would not enhance the open character of the site, there would be an enhanced recreational benefit to the proposal allowing a currently underutilised area of the park to be brought back into use and offer several recreational uses for the local community.

Some heritage harm had also been identified as a result of the concentration of structures in this area.  Whilst the harm identified must be given great weight, officers concluded it to be at the ‘less than substantial’ end of the spectrum, nonetheless this harm must be weighed against the public benefits accruing from the scheme. It was considered that there were a number of public benefits associated with the proposal including:

  • the revitalisation and improvements to a currently unused area of the park in order to promote and facilitate new recreational uses as well as provide new public toilets; and
  • a number of flexible community uses, some of which would support the local economy, all of which would help ensure the future viability of the park.


Having regard to these benefits and affording the heritage harm identified great weight; it is considered that the public benefits associated with the proposals would outweigh the identified harm to the heritage assets. Consequently, the proposals would be compliant with paragraph 202 of the NPPF, which deals with less than substantial harm to heritage assets.

Highways concerns had also been raised due to the vehicular access on site. Officers had worked proactively with the agent to reduce the number of vehicle movements on site, the frequency of any pop-up market would be limited, and a traffic management plan has been submitted to manage these movements.



Public Speakers


Pat West – Cromer Town Council

Harry Foulkes – Objecting

Richard Wall – Supporting

Martyn Coe – Supporting


Members Questions and Debate


      i.        The Local Member – Cllr E Spagnola – spoke in her capacity as Ward Member, Mayor of Cromer and Project Manager for the application. She expressed her support for the scheme which would restore a run-down plot which had been a blight on the landscape of Cromer for the last 20 years, into use. She argued that ‘Community’ was at the heart of the scheme and had been considered in all elements of the proposal.


Cllr E Spagnola advised that there were no toilets above beach level at the eastern side of Cromer, and certainly no changing places. It was noted that whilst there had been a new playpark situated on North Lodge Park, there were no toilets available nearby for users. Further, if visitors wished to shop on the eastern side of town, they would have to walk some distance to the nearest convenience, this was not practical for those with disabilities.


During the COVID-19 pandemic it became apparent the number of families living on Cromer in poverty, as a Member of Cromer Cares, the Local Member stated she understood the need for a Community Food Hub. This would offer dignity back to service users who may otherwise have to face the stigma of going to a food bank.


Cllr E Spagnola noted the positive comments from supporting speakers and stated that the Community Shed was important in helping integrate people within their community whilst also aiding in Mental Health. Further, the Potting Shed would be instrumental to the Friends of North Lodge Park in tending to North Lodge Park by sustainably growing plants for use both within the park and for sale.


With respect of the entertainment space, the Local Member noted that theatre productions had been held in the park for several years, and having this dedicated space would be of benefit for travelling productions and budding musicians. In addition, the pop-up stalls would help local people transform their hobbies and passions into small local businesses.


She advised that the Town Council would contribute financially to the scheme and the operation of the site alongside charities. Cromer Town Council would host regular meetings to ensure effective collaboration between groups.


The Local Member affirmed that the benefits of the proposal far outweighed any negatives, and implored Members to approve the application.


     ii.        Cllr J Boyle, Member for the neighbouring Cromer Town Ward, spoke in support of the application. The area at present had been subject to anti-social behaviour with evidence of substance misuse left discarded. Cllr J Boyle advised of conversations she had held with residents whose properties overlooked the park and who no longer felt safe to walk through the park in the evening. This resident had expressed their support for the proposal which they considered would bring people back into the park.


Cllr J Boyle noted that several other schemes and businesses had operated from the site with limited success. The proposed scheme would offer flexibility to accommodate ever changing needs, whilst attracting visitors to the area.


She reflected that there were many benefits to the proposal, the proposed entertainment space would promote live music and live theatre in the park, which historically it was well known for, the Community Shed would bring Mental Health Benefits, The Community Food Hub would aid in addressing food poverty and the Potting Shed would work to enhance the Park.


She advised of conversions she had with users of her guest house, who remarked how saddened they were by the disarray of the Park, with one couple refusing to return to Cromer due to their upset. Cllr J Boyle considered that the proposal would capture the essence of the original park and integrate it with today’s modern world.


    iii.        Cllr T Adams, Member for the neighbouring Cromer Town Ward, spoke in support of the application. With respect of Heritage considerations, he noted that the Conservation and Design Officer had concluded that the application would result in ‘less than substantial harm’ with the Officer also recognising the improvement upon the previous planning application. Cllr T Adams asked that Members consider the situation in reverse with the proposal already being in situ, and a planning application was received for a bare, overgrown concrete pad, with a dilapidated structure – this clearly would not contribute towards the setting of the Grade II listed North Lodge. He noted that the applicant was the owner of North Lodge and that the Town Council had invested time and money into restoring and maintaining this asset.


Cllr T Adams stated that the Committee must weigh the positive impact of the use of the park. Some years prior a new footbridge had been installed of modern design replacing a more traditional structure. Through the new footbridge use and connectivity to the park had been restored.


The scheme would allow for flexible use, particularly with the partnership of community groups and include the possibility of music and live events, community and economic activities, and potential for youth activities.


He agreed with other representations that the park had been subject to anti-social behaviour which had grown as various assets had closed, and considered the scheme would form part of the regeneration of the park. Referencing broader regeneration of the park, Cllr T Adams noted that NNDC in recent months had leased the former Collector’s Cabin which had been transformed into an ice-cream outlet, the proposal at Seaview, and the replacement footbridge. He considered that there was more to come with the possibility of outside funding.


With respect of traffic management, Cllr T Adams argued that the plans proposed exceeded that of other businesses on the site given the proposed gate system and traffic management plan. Further, traffic on site would be tempered by the placement of speedbumps along the Carriageway. The Town Council alongside Friends of North Lodge Park had raised concerns over vehicle access; therefore, Cllr T Adams considered these groups would be good custodians.


The Cromer Town Member acknowledged that this item had been referred to Committee due to NNDC policy that applications on NNDC owned land must be referred to Development Committee. The application had been supported by Officers, the Local Ward Member, and there had not been a significant groundswell of objection. Cllr T Adams asked that the Committee consider approving the application.


   iv.        Cllr L Paterson welcomed the new, revised application, and affirmed his support for the provision of the public convenience. He sought clarity over the use of cladding and whether it would be the same material used across all structures.


     v.        The PO-AW confirmed that it was proposed that all structures would be clad in matching vertical timber and commented that this could be conditioned if desired.


   vi.        Cllr P Fisher thanked public speakers for their representations and to the Case Officer in presenting a good and balanced report. He acknowledged the well-being benefits the scheme would bring as well as the need for toilets on the eastern side of Cromer following the closure of other facilities. Cllr P Fisher concluded that the good brought via the proposal would outweigh possible harm to the area and so proposed acceptance of the officer’s recommendation for approval.


  vii.        Cllr M Hankins stated that, whilst he was unfamiliar with the site, he was familiar with the ‘men’s shed’ movement and of the site in North Walsham which had enabled many lonely people to regain respect through their hobbies. He commended the applicant’s pragmatic solution to a derelict site, particularly during challenging economic circumstances, and considered the scheme to be a pragmatic solution to a difficult problem.


 viii.        Cllr L Vickers expressed her support for the application which she considered to be an improvement on the site at present and praised both the Cromer and the broader Men’s Shed movement for their outstanding work. She asked for clarification on how the scheme would be funded, whether this would be through Cromer Town Council and charitable means or if funding requests would be sent to NNDC.


   ix.        The DM advised that the funding of the scheme was not a directly related planning matter and should not influence the Committee in reaching its determination. Members were asked to consider whether the principle of development was acceptable in planning terms.


     x.        Cllr L Vickers thanked the DM for his advice. She affirmed that she would like to see the scheme funded in the way in which it had been suggested.


   xi.        Cllr K Toye thanked members of the public for their comments which were beneficial to the Committee in forming its determination. She considered that the site had been neglected and uncared for, for many years, and recalled the former use of the site was a destination location and one which people used to actively want to walk though and enjoy. She stated her firm support for the application and so seconded the Officer’s recommendation.


  xii.        Cllr G Bull thanked speakers for their valued opinions. He was supportive of the pop-up market, which had been successfully utilised at other locations, however asked what types of stalls would be envisaged, their dimensions and frequency of use.


 xiii.        The PO-AW advised that the design and access statement offered greater detail into the market. The pop-up market was intended to be small scale with parking provision for only 7 vehicles on the site. The dates of the other market in the Town had been noted and it was expected that there wouldn't be a clash of timings.


 xiv.        Cllr C Ringer thanked attending speakers for their input. He that the proposal would bring much value to the local community. With respect of the entertainment space, having had some experience in organising small music events elsewhere in the district, he affirmed that the proposed space had the potential to be used for a variety of events which would positively contribute to the area. He argued that the Council could not protect the piece of land as existing, which was an eyesore, and affirmed that the proposal would undoubtedly improve the site.




That Planning application PF/23/1761 be APPROVED in accordance with the Officers recommendation.

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