December 6 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 9, 2013
Communities and countryside surrounding Norwich could be “swamped” by urban sprawl if proposed changes to a key planning document, revealed today, are approved, it has been claimed.
More than 30,000 new homes are earmarked for the area surrounding the city by 2026.
But if they are not built fast enough, a planning inspector’s report says that more land must be found for immediate construction – in addition to the 30,000 already agreed.
They would have to be built in the Norwich Policy Area, which includes Long Stratton, Wymondham and Hethersett – but John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk district council, said: “South Norfolk is full.”
Denise Carlo, a spokesman for Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group and Green city councillor, said: “To impose more housing on an unwilling public would be unwise.
“The housing growth deal which Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk Councils brokered behind closed doors has backfired on South Norfolk because it may now be forced to accept a major concentration of housing in the Wymondham and Hethersett area.
“Unless these inflated growth plans are challenged, the prospect facing local people is the swamping of a once-fine city and its surrounding countryside by endless sprawl”.
The planning policy, called the Joint Core Strategy (JCS), is a blueprint setting out where the new homes should be built and was drawn up by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP), made up of Norwich City Council, South Norfolk Council, Broadland District Council, Norfolk County Council and the Broads Authority.
Planning inspector David Vickery held hearings into parts of the strategy in May and July following a successful High Court challenge by Salhouse anti-urbanisation campaigner Stephen Heard, and today’s publication of the inspector’s proposed changes marks the start of a six-week public consultation.
While seven of the eight proposed changes are relatively insignificant, one could trigger significant new housing development.
The inspector said he was concerned proposals for growth in the so-called growth triangle north-east of Norwich – an area covering Rackheath and Beeston St Andrew, which is due to receive 7,000 new homes by 2026 – may not be able to deliver homes quickly enough.
Under his proposals, if there were a “significant shortfall” in the supply of housing land in Broadland Council’s part of the Norwich Policy Area, the councils would have draw up a local plan to identify “immediately deliverable housing land”, elsewhere.
And Graham Nelson, head of planning services for Norwich City Council, working with the GNDP, said these homes would be in addition to the 7,000 planned for the growth triangle – not an alternative to them.
He said that increasing the housing land supply in the Broadland area of the Norwich Policy Area would be hard, but economic recovery could help.
John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “South Norfolk is full. We have got nearly 8,000 planning permissions granted in South Norfolk not yet built. We are not having any more than we have not already accounted for. That’s it.
“South Norfolk already has a core strategy, thank you very much, and we don’t intend to adopt another one.”
Andrew Proctor, leader of Broadland Council, said: “We will have to look across the whole area. It may or may not come in South Norfolk. We have worked as partners for the last seven or eight years putting this plan together, and I’m sure we can continue to work together. I’m sure we will find the best locations.”
Brenda Arthur, GNDP chairman and leader of Norwich City Council, welcomed the consultation.
She said: “This gives us confidence the Joint Core Strategy will be found sound, and we will be able to implement sustainable plans to deliver much-needed homes and jobs in the area.
“I do have concerns over some aspects of what the inspector is suggesting may be needed in this consultation. The GNDP will be making comments on these during the consultation period and I encourage others to do the same.”
Stephen Heard, spokesman for Stop Norwich Urbanisation, said the inspector’s concerns about how quickly the housing land could be delivered in the growth triangle north-east of Norwich meant the entire JSC should be found unsound.
He said: “We do not believe there is a need for 30,000 houses. The overall total number of houses should be reduced from a bottom-up perspective, and that reduced number of houses should be dispersed between the existing communities.”
The consultation document can be viewed at gndp.org.uk