Flood-proof plan for Norwich homes scheme

A scheme to build hundreds of new homes on the outskirts of Norwich has been awarded a slice of �2.3m to make the houses flood-proof – and could help shape the way future developments nationwide are protected from climate change.

The work which will be done to ensure the new homes earmarked for the Deal Ground and May Gurney sites near Trowse can withstand flooding will help forge a national strategy on how to adapt buildings in the face of climate change.

Plans for the ambitious �100m scheme to build 682 homes and a marina on the brownfield land were lodged with Norwich City Council earlier this year.

As reported in the Evening News, the proposals, submitted by Norfolk-based developer Serruys Property Company, would finally see the development of 45 acres of land between Trowse and Whitlingham.

The architects behind the plans, which also include a public square, a new marina along the river Wensum, 682 homes and 25,000 sq ft of commercial space have been awarded central government funding to help research the site.

Baca Architects have won a share of �2.3m from the Technology Strategy Board, to find solutions to climate change issues such as flooding and water stress.

The firm says that extra cash will mean they can undertake new academic research and testing of the best products, practices and materials for the homes and shops planned for the site.

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A spokesman for Baca said: 'Working with a consortium of high profile experts, including the Universities of East Anglia (UEA) and Wolverhampton (UoW), The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Climatic Research Unit, we will have unprecedented access to world-leading technical experts, modelling and engineers.

'The findings will be turned into an illustrated manual of 'best practice' to help other designers and constructors working in similar site conditions to design homes better suited for future needs.

'For the East Anglia region, identified as prone to flooding and with a higher than average degree of climate change, the benefits of this research for retro-fitting existing developments in the area could save multi millions of pounds over coming decades.'

Baca director, Robert Barker, said: 'This financial award will allow us to make a further significant contribution to architectural innovation and sustainability.

'The Deal Ground/May Gurney site will become a test case for other water-based developments and the findings will possibly inform revisions to national building standards and regulations.

'We're looking forward to showcasing the results to the rest of the world.'

The site is the biggest area of undeveloped land in the city and speculation has raged for years as to what the future could hold for the site.

The scheme has yet to receive planning permission, but Lanpro Services, which is working with Baca and Serruys Property Company, is also seeking planning permission to run a river bus service to link the areas in Trowse with other developments close to Norwich City's Carrow Road ground. Those proposals will also ensure that the temporary Sustrans Connect2 route is delivered along its entire planned length in the short-term.

Charity Sustrans has been pushing for a bridge and a cycle link as part of a national programme which tries to provide alternatives to car use.

In the long-term, it is planned the river service to be replaced by the bascule bridge link across the river Wensum for pedestrians, cyclists, emergency and service vehicles.

But the development of the Deal Ground and May Gurney site have sparked controversy. Norwich Rivers Heritage Group has objected to the plans, arguing the development would be a 'disaster'.

Whitlingham Charitable Trust has also raised concerns about the impact on the country park, while officers at Norfolk County Council have objected because of the site's proximity to the Trowse railhead – where rock used in road building is delivered and asphalt is produced.

What do you think of the Deal Ground plans? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk