Anger over Costessey estate criticism

Stephanie BrooksCouncillors are demanding an explanation as to why a government report labelled an unfinished housing estate on the edge of Norwich as the worst in the country.Stephanie Brooks

Councillors are demanding an explanation as to why a government report labelled an unfinished housing estate on the edge of Norwich as the worst in the country.

Members of South Norfolk Council unanimously voted last night to write to its author, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), expressing their 'extreme disappointment and consternation' at the publication which it believes has tarnished the authority's reputation.

CABE, a government-funded organisation which advises ministers on architecture, urban design and public space, singled out Queen's Hills, in Costessey, in its Ordinary Place report calling it 'disheartening' and 'badly designed' with no vision for community.

Aside from a primary school, the 1,500 home development remains without many community facilities partly because the site's owners Cofton went into administration in 2008.

But the damning document was compiled without input or consultation with local councillors and was then sent to every local authority in the country.

Tim East, county, district and parish councillor for Costessey, who submitted the motion that a letter should be sent to CABE, said he wanted an apology for the 'incalculable damage' caused to South Norfolk Council, the residents of Queen's Hills and the district as a whole.

Most Read

'We need to seek an explanation, clarification and a justification, as well as some form of redress by extracting a public apology from CABE,' he said.

'We need to indicate to them that the first principles of objectivity, investigative and exploratory research were not applied to this report, which purports to be authoritative, accurate and fair, and which does this authority a considerable disservice.'

Mr East also questioned the fairness of CABE comparing Queen's Hills with the 51 home leafy development of South Gate in Totnes, Devon.

His opinion was shared with Derek Blake, portfolio holder for the planning, housing and the built environment, who said CABE's remarks had been 'unprofessional' and 'irresponsible in the extreme'.

He added that the council would be stepping up the pressure on developers at Queen's Hills this month by threatening them with an injunction if work to bring community facilities to the estate had not progressed.

It is hoped the bold action will prompt the submission of a planning application for a community centre, reignite plans for play and leisure facilities and speed up the adoption of the roads.

Are you a resident in Queen's Hill and want to have your say? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email