Battle to stop Wymondham homes plan

Sarah HallFurious councillors have pledged to fight 'inappropriate and unwelcome' proposals which could see up to 3,000 homes built on land to the north-east and east of Wymondham.Sarah Hall

Furious councillors have pledged to fight 'inappropriate and unwelcome' proposals which could see up to 3,000 homes built on land to the north-east and east of Wymondham.

A blueprint for the future of the town has called for development to be limited to 2,200 homes, but that has not stopped developers Barton Willmore from making a submission for up to 3,000 homes.

The planning consultancy, which has its head offices in London, has made a scoping opinion request to South Norfolk Council, which could pave the way for a future planning application.

That has sparked anger in the town, with councillors unhappy developers seem to be flying in the face of the joint core strategy - a blueprint agreed by local councils for how many homes should be built and where.

Martin Wynne, chairman of South Norfolk planning committee and one of the five district councillors representing Wymondham, blasted the submission, which comes from a company which previously eyed other parts of the town for large scale development and once argued the town could cope with an extra 10,000 new houses.

Mr Wynne said: 'I am again dismayed by yet another submission by a developer for a scoping exercise for 3,000 properties in north Wymondham, following a previous similar exercise by the same developer for south Wymondham for 3,500 properties.

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'Through the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP), I and other councillors have worked hard to limit future development in Wymondham up to 2026.

'This inappropriate and unwelcome scoping exercise is pre-empting the submission and approval of the GNDP Joint Core Strategy which proposes 2,200 properties for Wymondham, nearly 50pc less than originally suggested and well below what Barton Willmore are wanting.

'This same company in 2008 proposed to the East of England Regional Assembly that Wymondham could accommodate 10,000 homes.'

Mr Wynne said, should a planning application subsequently be submitted, he would step down as chairman of the planning committee so he could represent the views of people in Wymondham.

He said: 'It is for South Norfolk Council through locally elected members working with the community to decide what land should be made available and what future development is appropriate through a site specific policy.

'It is essential that within the framework of legal powers and procedures we ensure that we work together to implement future development in accordance with the emerging Joint Core Strategy and Local Development Framework.'

Lee Newlyn, partner at Barton Willmore, said: 'Barton Willmore has submitted a scoping letter for the site to the north and east of Wymondham. The aim of the letter is to 'test the water' to see whether there is any potential to use the land as a site for future housing.

'This is common practice at this early stage. We recognise the need for additional homes in the area and believe that this site may be able to provide the necessary land.

'This is a very early stage in the process and there will be many other conversations with the local council before any further steps are taken.'

The submission comes just a month after another a scoping opinion request - which establishes what information needs to be in any Environmental Statement should a planning application be submitted at a later date - was lodged for Hethersett.

Norwich-based property company Bidwells made that submission on behalf of developers in preparation for a possible planning application for as many as 4,000 homes.

That angered councillors because the GNDP had already rejected suggestions for so many homes in the village and decided instead to plan for around a thousand in its joint core strategy.