A wetland area has been proposed to combat the environmental impact of building 3,500 homes on the city's outskirts.

Beeston Park is set to become one of the biggest housing developments in Norfolk when completed and will see 600 acres of land north of Sprowston and Old Catton developed.

This is set to include two new primary schools, around 400 affordable homes, "significant" open space and a town square for retail and leisure amenities.

But for it to go ahead, the landowners must first provide a way to offset the impact thousands of new homes would have on local ecology.

Norwich Evening News: Mitigation measures are needed before any homes can be built at Beeston ParkMitigation measures are needed before any homes can be built at Beeston Park (Image: Quinn Estates)

As it stands, the additional wastewater from more houses and people in Beeston Park would negatively alter the nutrient levels in the soil, which is considered "nutrient pollution". 

To prevent this, developers must provide suitable mitigation measures to ensure "nutrient neutrality". 

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In this case, owners Stretton Beeston are proposing a 3.9-hectare (9.6 acres) wetland on the border of Dobbs' Beck which would remove sufficient nutrients from the site when building work begins.

Four hectares is roughly equivalent to the size of around 10 football pitches combined.

Norwich Evening News: The site in relation to the surroundingsThe site in relation to the surroundings (Image: Stretton Beeston)

Norwich Evening News: How the wetland may look if approved and constructedHow the wetland may look if approved and constructed (Image: Aspect Landscape Planning)

If approved by Broadland District Council, new reed beds, wildflowers, wetland plants and areas of open water would be introduced, contributing to the marsh habitat already there.

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According to a survey carried out as part of the planning application, there are no heritage assets located on the field but there is ancient woodland lining the eastern boundary and a southern section of it has biodiversity importance. 

What is the Beeston Park development?

The project has been in the pipeline since 2009 when former developers U&I and promoters Town formed part of a team that prepared a vision for the project, which will sprawl to the north of Old Catton and Sprowston, most of it between North Walsham Road and Wroxham Road.

Outline planning permission for the project was given by Broadland District Council in 2013 but work stalled while the five landowners - including Norfolk County Council - waited for developers to buy the land.

Norwich Evening News: Up-to-date plans from Quinn Estates show the developmentUp-to-date plans from Quinn Estates show the development (Image: Quinn Estates)

It was revealed earlier this year that the site was acquired by Stretton Beeston Limited, working in partnership with housebuilders Quinn Estates, to move ahead with plans. 

Since the start of March, the developers have been finalising details and have submitted minor revisions, including details around on-site parking for construction workers and construction traffic management.

Quinn Estates, marketing the site, has said: "Over the next 20 years, Beeston Park will become a community founded on the principles of traditional town-building combined with the best of contemporary sustainable design."

The firm also believes its project "delivers both on and off-site nutrient neutrality solutions".

Norwich Evening News: Norwich Rugby Club's Beeston Hyrne homeNorwich Rugby Club's Beeston Hyrne home (Image: Newsquest)

Previous plans had factored in Norwich Rugby Club leaving its Beeston Hyrne home for the UEA but this has been rolled back and the club will stay, with a link road on the edge of its site to link the development land to the east and west.

The Greater Norwich Local Plan

The GNLP paves the way for thousands of homes to be built in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.

The blueprint includes 45,000 new Norfolk homes to be built by 2038, with around 9,000 already built.

However, Norwich City Council recently refused plans to redevelop the former Colman's Mustard factory site Carrow Works, which would have brought 2,000 homes and developers pulled out of a £300m Anglia Square revamp - both of which are included in the GNLP.

Norwich Evening News: Land off North Walsham Road which could be built on as part of the Beeston Park developmentLand off North Walsham Road which could be built on as part of the Beeston Park development (Image: Google Maps)

Norwich, Rackheath, Hellesdon, Drayton, Taverham, Wymondham and Thorpe St Andrew are some of the areas earmarked for development.

Work on the plan has been ongoing since 2019 when site promoters, landowners and others were asked to suggest locations that could be included in the document.