December 12 2013 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Sunday, October 13, 2013
The public launch of a Norfolk town’s neighbourhood plan drew in many residents and gave schoolchildren the chance to have their say on the future.
Pupils at Attleborough High School had put together displays giving their views on what kind of developments they would like to see in the town during the period until 2026.
The launch took place at the school on Saturday and attracted approximately 300 residents during the four hour period it was running, many of them concerned that 4,000 new homes had been earmarked for Attleborough.
The students’ views will be fed into the ongoing consultation for the plan, which will act as a blueprint for how future industry, housing, health and education provision within the town will look.
Ideas presented by the students included providing more cycle routes around the town, providing a bridge at the station and removing the on street parking spaces outside shops on Church Street to create a two lane road in a bid to relieve traffic congestion around the town centre.
However, resident George Ridgway, who lives in Station Road, said while he liked the idea of the bridge over the railway track, he was concerned how it would be implemented in practice and particularly whether larger vehicles and double decker buses would be able to get under it.
He could not understand why a rural town like Attleborough was being targeted for 4,000 homes, arguing that the development would be more appropriate within the M25 corridor.
He said: “They project 4,000 houses and 2,000 jobs, but that will be nowhere near enough. We are already becoming a dormitory town for Cambridge and Norwich.”
Ian Fleming, of Burgh Common, Attleborough had similar fears about the town becoming a dormitory for other towns and cities and did not want the town to become a city.
He wanted developments to occur naturally with villages in the area expanding when needed, rather than extra homes being imposed by the government.
“The plans don’t seem to account for what the people of Attleborough have actually got, which is the freedom to walk in the countryside and enjoy it and to breathe really. The protection of the countryside in Attleborough would seem to me to be very important,” Mr Fleming said.
Students Alice Dalton, 15, from Great Hockham and Sophie Kirkman, also 15, from Attleborough, created one of the stands on show at the launch and said the work they had done on the neighbourhood plan tied in with their GCSE Citizenship studies.
Alice said: “This has quite a big effect on us because it is our community and where we live and gave us the chance to be able to have a say on how things turn out.
“This is our chance to make a difference for our community and I would love to be able to walk down the road in the future and tell my children that I played a part in the developments they could see.”
The town council and Attleborough Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group are developing the plan after a previous proposal by Breckland Council to develop an Attleborough and Snetterton Heath Area Action Plan (ASHAAP) was abandoned.
Town councillor Richard Middleton said the neighbourhood plan was for the whole community, including the younger generation within the town, which was why the council had decided to consult the high school pupils.
He added residents would also get the chance to provide their ideas and a list of proposals would then be drawn up and a referendum held.
“We did not know what to expect when we consulted the children, but we have been astonished at what they have produced.”