West Acre Parish Council
Welcome to our website.
Here you will find information about the village, news about local events and links to local attractions. We hope that you find what you want. If not, please contact one of the Parish Councillors listed in the contact page.
Click on a picture to see a larger version. Please note that this site is not responsible for changes to any events listed.
West Acre Parish Council
The Annual General Meeting of the Parish Council took place on Wednesday 10 June 2020.
Due to the government restrictions on meetings of groups other than families, the Meeting was held online via Zoom. Click here to view the Minutes of the Meeting.
The Meeting approved the Annual Internal Audit Report for 2019-20. A copy of the Report can be viewed by clicking on this link.
Below you will find Minutes of Parish Council meetings from the last twelve months, plus other documents which the Council has to publicise to comply with the Transparency Code.
Click on a heading to see the full document.
West Acre Annual Parish Reports for 2019-20
To read a report from one of the following groups working in the village. Please click on the name of the group to see the full report.
All Saints Church services
Please note that services have resumed at All Saints, West Acre.
The next service will be this year's Carol Service on Friday 18 December at 7pm.
A message from Eoghan Shiels
Chair, West Acre Parish Council
As we emerge from our various forms of lockdown and indeed for some of you a long period of relative isolation into our new post Covid world of social distancing and masks it’s perhaps time for the village to take stock.
The PC has heard many stories of neighbour looking after neighbour delivering food, medicine and indeed more recently a few have started to make and share face masks – all a sign of a positive & caring community. The pubs take away service seems to have been a success and very much appreciated in the village and also indeed further afield. We can now look hopefully forward to it reopening on the 4th July – that’s a day to anticipate with some excitement.
We have had a glorious spring of weather and the estates exciting rewilding process ongoing around the village offers us a much healthier landscape and context for our lives and for all within the wider parish area.
There is therefore much for our community to take pride in and to cherish and, as we all know West Acre Estate plays, by far, the major role in the stewardship of both the landscape and built infrastructure of the village which we all enjoy. The estate will also understandably want to optimise income streams and clearly this can offer many positives - delivering biodiversity, improved housing stock & reusing older buildings (Abbey Barns) or utilising under used land. Increased footfall could also be of benefit to local business especially our pub. The brewery will, we hope, be successful but this has already lead to various concerns in relation to traffic, noise and smell which have led to formal complaints to the Local Authority and currently being investigated. The theatre we again hope will remain a fulcrum of activity once it is able to emerge from the current lockdown constraints.
Bradmoor Woods glamping site will presumably open again for business shortly with, we understand, restrictions on amplified music which should reduce the risk of noise impacting residents as it did last year.
The future of the church, possibly including the village hall, remain issues of debate and concern.
Partly as a result of all of the above but also because of the sudden hiatus when the relaxing of lockdown combined with the fine weather we have found out that West acre is becoming increasingly well known as a great destination with a beautiful and accessible river, a place to visit as a local alternative to longer journeys to the coast and other resorts. Whilst the majority of you probably take considerable pleasure in seeing visitors enjoy the beauty of West Acre’s Nar Valley landscape there is also the difficult question of balancing access for visitors against the negative impacts - some of you have approached the PC through
the lockdown period with concerns such as;
• Ad-hoc and intensive parking on the green in front of the church impacting negatively on its setting and cause damage to surfaces not intended to take these peak volumes.
• Mill Lane leading to the local river ford – informal overspill parking from the Mill/common car park (which has often been full in recent times) causing erosion to verges and gradual degradation of this sensitive location.
• Our visitors often leave an extensive mess for residents to clean up.
Whilst the various recent more extreme visitor problems have clearly arisen after the very unusual lockdown period and we don’t know what things will be like next winter it is likely that collectively the village will need to plan for more visitors and not less. It will be interesting therefore to see how things are over the coming summer holiday months.
The parish council is the body recognised by the local planning authority with whom to consult when problems such as noise arise or applications for development are made within our parish area. In all of this we would seek to make sure that the village’s status in the local plan in which it is currently designated as a ‘Smaller Village and Hamlet” - with only very limited development potential is respected. In this regard the parish council, would aim ensure that Norfolk Highways, the West Norfolk Planning and Environment teams, Natural England, Historic England, The Environment Agency, along with a range of other stakeholders including of course West Acre Estate are aware of the views of parish residents when any future planning applications come forward in the parish area.
Whilst our resources are very limited indeed The Parish Council has started a discussion with the estate (interrupted by lockdown) in order to see if there is any merit in coordinating a village plan/vision which integrates residents’ views with the estate’s own business/village development vision.
With this idea in mind do you have any problems/issues and ideas that you would like pass on to the Parish Council or estate? If so, why not come to our next Annual Village Meeting on 10 August - Alec Birkbeck has kindly offered to attend in order to update us with regard to the estate’s rewilding project and any other possible other development plans and of course to answer questions.
The PC is particularly keen to see and hear from younger families and from residents at the Warren, Pretoria and High House.
Chair, West Acre PC
Green Homes Grant scheme launched
Homeowners and landlords in England can apply for a voucher towards the cost of installing energy efficient and low-carbon heating improvements to homes, which could help save up to £600 a year on energy bills.
To read more about the scheme and how to apply visit the
On Saturday 16 August West Acre experienced an unusual weather event which led to River Road taking on the appearance of its name. River Road resident Andrew Smith recorded his property being flooded with water running off River Road. Andrew describes the event, “The downpour on 16 August was very traumatic for us as the drains in the road outside our house were completely overwhelmed, due to a combination of poor design and poor maintenance. As a result flood water rushed up to the walls of our house and through the gate, running into our garage and the surrounding garden.” Andrew adds that this incident was not a one-off, but a problem which has been ongoing for a long time.
Andrew’s compatriot-in-suffering, Sally Bridle, owns the property adjacent to Andrew’s on the other side of the bridge. Sally has also had years of sharing this problem, with the added misery of being inundated with run-off water, soil and gravel from the fields opposite the junction of River Road and Narford Road.
West Acre Parish Council, in conjunction with the Westacre Estate and Norfolk County Council Highways has been proactive in trying to find a resolution to Sally’s and Andrew’s problems. Parish Council chair Eoghan Shiels recently led a meeting of interested parties including Sally, Andrew, Henry Birbeck and Andrew Wallace, representing the NCC Highways Department. The meeting took the form of a walk to look at the specific issues previously recorded in the agenda document prepared by West Acre Parish Council.
Andrew was pleased with the outcome “Thanks to Eoghan’s hard work it was agreed that the drainage system needs to be improved and upgraded so that the storm water could be removed from the road more efficiently by upgrading inadequate storm gulleys and also by lowering road side banks to enable water to flow more readily into the roadside ditches leading to the river flow more readily into the roadside ditches.”
The proposed measures are illustrated in diagram 1 (River Road north). The existing bank opposite the road sign is to be removed in order to allow for water drainage into the existing ditch. The bank will be removed for 15 to 20m at least. Marker posts will protect these areas from being used as unofficial lay-bys and for safety. The parish council would prefer to see square timber post with reflectors rather than the standard plastic.
Diagram 2 shows River Road looking south, towards the River Nar. Part of the existing bank on the left side of the road is to be removed to allow surface water to drain into the adjacent meadow. The bank and fence will be removed and the extent of work agreed with Westacre Estate. The road will be cleared of all debris/sand.
The meeting also discussed the need to manage the wider large catchment bringing the water to the River Nar to the north and south of the bridge. Andy Wallace agreed that this was an important factor to be reviewed but also explained that the budget for such works is extremely limited. He also agreed to look again at the recently created grips to the south on River Road to make them more effective. This might mean further liaison with West Acre Estate to allow outfalls into the adjacent meadow.
Sally and Eoghan noted that there was a need to ensure all the above works meet requirements for catchment management as set out by the Norfolk Rivers Trust River Nar Local Catchment Plan. This plan makes specific reference to the problems caused by sediment and soil washing into the river at West Acre.
All of the above works would now be carried out in November 2020 and would require closure of River Road.
Meanwhile, Sally is hoping to find a resolution to the problem arising from the other direction with the cooperation of all interested parties, including the Environment Agency.
River Road, looking south
River Road, looking north
Andrew's garden with River Road beyond
River Nar showing pollution resulting from flooding
Westacre Parish Council
Chair’s report for 2019-2020
The following people served on the council during this period:
Eoghan Sheils (chair)
Terry Howlett (resigned on the 9th June 2020)
Fiona Bolingbroke Kent
Henry Birkbeck (Clerk & RFO) Richard Furze (Internal Auditor)
Delegation of main parish responsibilities
Planning & Highways: Eoghan Sheils
Roads: Eoghan Sheils
Youth activities: Antonia Hanbury
Theatre liaison, health/well-being & litter: Jeremy Cameron Newsletter & website: Ralph Sliwa
SAM – speed awareness camera: Terry Howlett
Parish Council Meetings
There have been 6 meetings during the past year although, because of Covid restrictions, the final meetings were via Zoom and the annual meeting cancelled and replaced by an open meeting in the Stag Pub tent. The PC would like to thank all those village groups and organisations who submitted written reports/resumés of their activity this year. As always, I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank all residents and local/district councillors who regularly attend and participate in the parish council meetings. The feedback and comments we receive gives us an important sense of purpose and direction without which our time spent as councillors would perhaps feel a lot less useful. Thank you also to the village hall committee for the use of the building for these meetings.
Has remained unchanged at £750
Throughout the Year
In the face of the Corona virus emergency the Parish Council has sought to ensure, via the parish newsletter, that no resident would feel isolated during the period of lockdown. A number of councillors & residents offered contact details in order to offer the support necessary should any residents feel isolated because of the need to self-isolate or shielding. The PC was pleased to see and hear the way in which neighbour has looked after neighbour which has meant that, to date, this emergency support has not been needed. After lockdown the village, like other parts of the country, was rather inundated with visitors largely because the end of lockdown coincided with a period of early summer sunshine and warmth. The PC has formally recorded numerous complaints regarding problems with parking and extensive littering. These issues are likely to be topics of ongoing discussion and consideration for the PC over the coming months in coordination with West Acre Estate and other interest groups/stakeholders.
We have continued to receive ongoing feedback from residents expressing concern with regard to Highway Matters – condition of verges, signs, bridge and Fullers Lane & drainage/flooding. You will recall the parish council set up a schedule of defects document recording visually all the various issues. The parish council has coordinated a further series of communications and meetings with NCC highways and has been able to agree a schedule of works either side of the bridge on River Road which are due to be implemented in November 2020. A detailed summary of the problems and proposed works is available on the Village website. In parallel with River Road drainage works other highway works aimed at reducing surface water runoff through the village have been implemented. These include an additional gulley at the top of Low Road and the clearing out of grips and drainage channels on Church Green and elsewhere. These works to date have had limited impact so further works have been agreed with NCC highways aimed at reducing surface water drainage which causes problems through the village and which currently eventually ends up at Fullers Lane have been agreed with NCC highways. The parish council will make it a priority to maintain pressure on NCC highways to adequately respond to outstanding issues. We will also continue to liaise with the Highways Rangers in an effort to keep West Acre’s paths and roads clean and tidy. At the time of writing we have just had series of significant rainfall events which has resulted in significant soil runoff from fields on Tumbley Hill and the filling up of all the recent highway works with deposited soil/silt including significant deposition on Fullers Lane. The PC has raised this issue with the Estate and understands that matter is currently being looked into it.
SAM speed awareness sign
Many thanks to Terry and all those involved for taking ownership of the ongoing management – rotating location and recording etc.
Planning matters - Brewery
The parish council was approached by a number of residents complaining about the impact of light pollution. The PC has coordinated a dialogue between the brewery, residents and planning authority and with the cooperation of the brewery it has been agreed that the lighting which was causing the problems with be switched off. The PC is aware that there is a separate ongoing complaint formally submitted to the Local Planning Authority looking into a suggestion that aspects of the brewery development may not have been fully constructed strictly in accordance with planning approval and that this may be responsible for ongoing odours impacting some residents. The PC is monitoring this situation and will be ready to support finding a resolution as necessary.
Planning Matters - Estate
• Abbey Barns – Pickling Shed change of use application
The parish council was approached by concerned residents about this application. The parish council subsequently spoke to the planning officer responsible following which the PC formally submitted a formal letter supporting the application because it offered a positive reuse of an existing building but with the condition that the time of operation is limited to normal working hours and that no activity will take place on Sundays and Bank Holidays in order to protect adjacent residential amenity. We understand no decision has yet been made.
• Abbey Barns – Storage Containers
The Parish Council has previously expressed a view (in response to the estates retrospective planning application which they submitted in order to seek approval for the location of the containers) that they had an undesirable visual and physical impact on this important historic scheduled monument location and that this was therefore an inappropriate location for the storage containers. The PC was also concerned about the potential precedent they created for further ad hoc use that could lead to undesirable visual/physical impact on this historic part of the village. The PC is pleased to see that the containers have now been removed (thanks to the estate). We are aware however that they have now been moved to a site near East Walton and whilst this is outside of our parish area, we trust that this alternative location has been agreed/coordinated with the borough council planning team.
• Abbey Barns – Operating Hours
The Parish Council will of course be supportive of developments which bring life and employment to the village but its important that when these planning applications are submitted residents should feel that they have been consulted in line with good practice and that their views have been taken into consideration. The PC is obliged to raise any legitimate planning concerns on behalf of residents should development risk impacting negatively on individuals or the residential amenity of the wider village.
The PC has been made aware that some activities at Abby Barns are in breach of the planning approval with some activities continuing in the evenings and some specific events advertised for Sundays and Bank Holidays which is not formally allowed under the current planning approval (excluding the brewery which has a separate planning approval). The PC has agreed with the estate that the estates tenants would be made aware of these time limits when planning events and/or a variation to current time limits sought and formally agreed with the local planning authority. The PC awaits final confirmation of a resolution to these matters.
• Abbey Barns – Future Developments
Westacre Estate has outlined a longer-term vision for further development of studios and workshops at the barns. The PC welcomes in principle those developments which bring potential of local employment to the village and which show evidence of having considered how any increase in visitors can be suitably managed. The PC will continue to represent residents concerns when it comes to judging the details of these proposals as they are formally submitted for consultation through the planning approval process. It is our positive intention however to ensure a harmonious relationship with the Estate and we hope to establish a shared vision for developments in the village and parish generally which is a fair for both the Estate and wider residential community.
• Rewilding & bike trails
The Estate is well underway with the exciting opportunities to enhance wildlife and conservation in parallel with additional recreational opportunities for cycling. Whilst naturally very supportive of this important project the parish council will seek regular updates from the estate. In particular the PC will continue to monitor both the positive and negative impacts of anticipated increased footfall/visitors in village on residents. For examples some of you will have noted the blue painted timber posts in the village which mark a advertised mountain bike cycling route (advertised by the estate) through the village and which therefore also shares land owned by NCC highways including Fullers Lane. The PC will be interested to hear from residents with regard to both positive and negative impact over the coming months as the route becomes better known.
• Camping site at Narford Lane (next to the trout farm)
The estate submitted a proposal for a new camping site (25 tent pitches, 34 parking spaces and 10 or so camper van spots). The design statement submitted with the application indicated that it was intended to be open all year and to be marketed primarily for nature tourism (primarily in relation to the rewilding project). The design statement was however unclear about the maximum numbers occupying the site along and did not address a range of other potential impacts. Therefore, although the site is just outside the western parish boundary, the PC submitted an objection to the proposal on the basis that there was a lack of information in relation to the impact of visitors on the local natural environment and on West Acre itself. We also shared an NCC Highway objection in relation to traffic on the basis that Narford Lane was not suitable for the volume of turn over traffic a successful camp site would generate. We understand that this application may now have been withdrawn in its current form.
Website & News Letter
Many thanks as always to Ralph for his hard work - the parish website continues to runs well and we are able to produce a regular newsletter. The feedback we have received regarding the newsletter in particular suggest that it is well received by many residents. We are as always keen to hear from residents of any topics, issues or stories they would like to see covered.
I would like to thank all the councillors for their continuing support of West Acre. In particular I’d like to thank Terry for his time on the Parish Council. Although Terry resigned in June I have since bumped into him on a number of occasions in full litter picking mode on the common and supporting village events generally - thank you Terry for all you are doing to make the village a better place for all of us. Many thanks again also to Henry for his ongoing and significant time to fulfil the roles of Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer. Councillors are aware that this is a significant commitment and that it is an essential part of being able to keep the Parish Council operational.
The NRN will be a national network of wildlife-rich places. The aim is to expand, improve and connect these places across our towns, cities and countryside.
Westacre Estate rewinding project at West Acre is part of the National Recovery Network.
You will find a short video explaining Natural England's ambitious plans on this link -
Westacre Estate and Natural England partnership to restore nature in England
Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England. They help to protect and restore our natural world.
Natural England is an non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).
Defra and Natural England are bringing together partners, legislation and funding, to create the Nature Recovery Network (NRN). Together, they will deliver the Network by restoring and enhancing England’s wildlife-rich places.
The latest COVID-19 advice from King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council
Coronavirus is here in west Norfolk - and on the rise.
We’ve all got to play our part: Stay home as much as possible. Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
West Norfolk, let’s keep the people we care about safe.
We’ve all got to play our part: Don’t meet friends or family indoors. Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
West Norfolk: let’s stop Coronavirus spreading.
We’ve all got to play our part: Only meet outdoors with one person from another household. Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk
Love west Norfolk? So do we. Let’s keep it safe.
We’ve all got to play our part: Stay safe outdoors. Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
West Norfolk: let’s keep our families, friends, and neighbours safe. We’ve all got to play our part: Minimise contact with others. Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
We’re in this together west Norfolk.
We’ve all got to play our part: Just buy what you need.
Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
Covid cases are on the rise in west Norfolk.
We’ve all got to play our part: Only make essential journeys. Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
Coronavirus cases are increasing in west Norfolk.
We’ve all got to play our part: You must self-isolate at home if you have symptoms / someone close to you tests positive / you test positive.
Protect ourselves, protect each other, protect west Norfolk.
Damage to memorial poppies
In the last two years a number of the poppies in the memorial garden have been damaged, possibly due to people playing ball games.
Most, such as the one above, have been repairable. But some have been damaged beyond repair.
The poppies are made from ceramic and are unique. They cannot be replaced.
We ask all children and adults to take care when playing on the village green.