Plans to build 343 homes and a car facility in North Walsham have been given the green light by North Norfolk Council despite opposition from locals.

The dispute has centred around the destruction of the Nursey Drive woodland to make way for the homes, which prompted more than 750 people to sign a petition to block the major scheme.

Eastern Daily Press: Hopkins Homes wants to build a 343-home estate and elderly care home in North Walsham.Hopkins Homes wants to build a 343-home estate and elderly care home in North Walsham. (Image: Planning documents)

There is also a lack of trust among councillors that Hopkins Homes, the developer, will deliver the 15pc affordable homes they have promised after the company cut all affordable homes from a scheme in Holt.

Speaking at a development meeting this week, North Walsham councillor Lucy Shires said: "Will we see what we have been promised? I'm not confident".

Eastern Daily Press: Lucy Shires, Norfolk County Councillor for North Walsham EastLucy Shires, Norfolk County Councillor for North Walsham East (Image: Newsquest)

A local objector, Nigel Lloyd, spoke about the effect it will have on the environment, arguing it will be "unwarranted destruction" of a natural habitat used by red-listed birds and other wildlife and made claims the developer had already disturbed the habitat by carrying out work before environmental surveys had been carried out.

Eastern Daily Press: Nursery Drive woods in North WalshamNursery Drive woods in North Walsham (Image: Avril Smith)

The head of planning at Hopkins Homes, Jonathan Lieberman, said he "disputes these accusations" and reiterated it is the company's intention to deliver the 15pc affordable homes as promised.

The need for affordable homes is particularly apparent in North Walsham.

According to Ms Shires, the latest figures show in the last 12 months only 27 affordable lettings have become available - whereas currently there are 384 households on housing waiting lists.

Despite local backlash to the plans, 11 councillors voted to back the scheme, with two opposing it and one abstention.

However, the final approval will depend on the receipt of a positive assessment from Norfolk County Council's flood experts, who are yet to submit a report on the plans.

Hopkins Homes has since issued a statement in relation to the development.

Jonathan Lieberman, head of planning said:

“We are pleased that our proposals for land south of Norwich Road, North Walsham have been recommended for approval and will be determined by the Development Committee at North Norfolk District Council. We are also grateful for the local community and the local authority’s participation in our consultation and role in evolving the proposals to maximise the benefits for North Walsham.

“This development will deliver significant social and economic value, going beyond housing, contributing to local employment and prosperity, as well as delivering open green spaces for future and existing residents to enjoy.”