Alternative to Coltishall eco-town?

Calls are being made on the government to rethink plans for an eco-town on the former RAF base at Coltishall.

Calls are being made on the government to rethink plans for an eco-town on the former RAF base at Coltishall.

The Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP), a partnership of councils, is proposing an alternative new development at Rackheath, in Broadland to the north east of Norwich, which could be built to zero carbon eco-town standards.

Today, the leaders of the councils that make up the GNDP have today made their case in a letter to housing minister Caroline Flint for the government to favour the Rackheath proposal over plans for an eco-town in Coltishall.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Rackheath is a much better option than Coltishall for meeting the government's eco-town objectives.

“It is better prepared to shoulder new infrastructure and the local landowners are ready for development.”

The proposed Rackheath development is included in proposals for new housing growth that are being put out for technical consultation this week. It is incorporated in a public information leaflet being delivered to all residents and it will be put to local people in a full public consultation next year.

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Daniel Cox, Norfolk County Council leader, said: “Rackheath is a realistic alternative to the Coltishall eco-town, but will only be made possible if Government support is forthcoming. They've made a good start by short listing GNDP for Community Infrastructure Funding, but this tacit approval will need to turn into a firm commitment if we are to make this development opportunity a success.”

The letter to the housing minister details a number of features that make the Rackheath area a viable option for zero carbon development.

These include how the site is being promoted for development by a group of landowners, which provides certainty that the plans will be delivered, it is close to an operational railway line, with station access, to existing and planned areas for employment growth and is well located in relation to Norwich.

However, the plans can only get the go-ahead with the support of government funding for the necessary infrastructure developments.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “If the Government wants to see an eco-town, and Rackheath is considered suitable, then it must fund the infrastructure to provide it, and that includes the Northern Distributor Road.

“That's the deal Norfolk people would expect us to agree and which they would support. They should not be short-changed on this.”

The planned development in Rackheath is dependent on the construction of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR). The GNDP has recognised that 10pc of the costs for this must come from local contributions but the bulk of funding will have to come from government schemes to support growth.

Simon Woodbridge, Broadland District Council leader, said: “The north east sector is an area which has been identified as an area for planned and managed growth and Rackheath is a part of this.

“We would want any houses planned to be as carbon neutral as possible for environmental reasons and also to keep fuel bills affordable for the generations of families we hope will live in them.”

In response to the partnership's proposal, Ms Flint said: “I very much welcome this positive proposal from these local authorities, which demonstrates how they are stepping up to meet the housing challenge in their area.

“We think this proposal has a lot of potential and it will now be rigorously assessed alongside the other bids to ensure only those with the highest standards make it through to the final short list.”