December 6 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
People living in a village on the outskirts of Norwich fear their rural way of life is about to be bulldozed, as council officers are recommending plans for 125 homes should be approved.
Residents campaigning against 125 new homes being built in Horsford are pointing to current traffic problems on the road where the houses are due to be built.
The above photo was taken in Mill Lane at 3.20pm yesterday, outside Horsford Junior School.
Mill Lane is a dead-end road, with its junction to Holt Road providing its only access. The new development of 125 homes is proposed to be built at the end of Mill Lane, meaning all new traffic would have to pass the school.
Developers are proposing to pay the school £35,000 to create a parking, drop off and pick up scheme within the school’s forecourt, as well as widening Mill Lane and creating parking bays.
A zebra crossing has also been added to plans, close to the junction with Angela Road, but residents fear the situation will get even worse.
District councillor John Starling said: “It’s a busy road anyway and if these homes are built there are going to be more children and it’s going to be a very, very busy road.
“It joins on with the Holt Road at the bottom, which is a road with a lot of traffic.”
However a report prepared by planning officers ahead of Wednesday’s committee meeting states: “It is acknowledged by the Highway Authority that localised congestion occurs but as this is only temporary and gone within approximately half an hour, it is not considered that this forms a robust objection on highway safety grounds.
“However, whilst not raising a safety issue, such congestion could cause a residential amenity issue with traffic queuing back from the junction (with Holt Road) and preventing local residents from accessing their properties.”
Campaigners against the plans for new homes in Horsford, to the north-west of the city, now fear if the plans are approved that even more houses will be built on green land next to the proposed development.
Around 150 worried villagers packed out a Horsford Parish Council meeting in June and since then over 200 letters of objections have been registered with Broadland District Council.
One of the campaigners against the plans, Kevin O’Gorman, said: “This has galvanised the village, everyone is talking about it. It’s nice that people are coming together and volunteering to post letters or help however they can.
“I haven’t spoken to one person who is in favour of the plans.”
The fears are based on a planning decision for 175 homes in Blofield earlier this year, when a Broadland planning committee rejection was overruled on appeal.
In March a planning inspector disagreed with Broadland’s reasons for refusal and agreed with the developers’ appeal that there was a shortfall of housing land over the next five years in the Broadland area.
Despite the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) – a blueprint for where 37,000 houses should be built in the Greater Norwich area through to 2026 – referring to about 50 homes for Blofield, the inspector said the JCS also said key settlements within the area may be considered for extra housing.
He said Broadland’s policies could not be considered up-to-date, so the presumption in favour of sustainable development took precedent.
The JCS identifies Horsford as one of 60 service villages which are appropriate for residential developments of between 10 and 20 houses.
However, the report from officers ahead of Wednesday’s decision states: “The proposed development of 125 dwellings, in addition to the 32 dwellings approved outside of the settlement limit at Pinelands Industrial Estate, would result in a total housing commitment in Horsford of 157 dwellings.
“Clearly this is well in excess of the total allocation set out in the JCS and would be a housing commitment commensurate with a Key Service Centre.
“However, Horsford is one of the larger service villages and contains a level of local services potentially associated with a key service centre.”
Broadland held a public consultation during July and August for its site allocations development plan, as it tries to meet its JCS allocation for 9,000 homes for Broadland by 2026.
However this consultation was not for the 7,000 homes included in the Growth Triangle covering Old Catton, Sprowston, Rackheath and Thorpe St Andrew, but for the remaining 2,000 around the district.
This included for between 800 and 1,000 homes in Hellesdon, 250 homes in Aylsham and 200 in Drayton.
For Horsford the proposal was for land at Pinelands, off Holt Road, being allocated for 63 homes and employment use, some of which have already been built.
There are also 15 affordable homes being built to the south of the village, alongside the Dog Inn, which do not contribute to the JCS allocations because the development is 100pc affordable housing.
A group of Horsford villagers have been campaigning against the plans, lodged by David Wilson Homes, and voiced their fears at the meeting of Broadland’s full council on August 20.
Michael Sweeney, a spokesman for the group, said: “We felt it was important to alert other Broadland residents of the situation as we are not the only village being affected. “Even if the council rejects this application, it is probably a done deal as the decision will probably be overturned on appeal simply because the council doesn’t have a five-year plan.
“Council officers and members are wasting time consulting on developments, as the views of local people matter for nothing. The whole district has been completely let down and we will have to live with the after effects for decades to come.”
The plans include 39 affordable homes, of which two would be wheelchair adaptable affordable bungalows, which meets Broadland’s minimum of 33pc of a development including affordable housing.
The plans will go before the committee tomorrow because district councillor John Starling has called in the application, and the land where the houses are proposed to be built, Sharps Hall Farm, is owned by the family of another district councillor, Joanne Keeler.