Business as usual for Rackheath plans

Kim BriscoeIt is 'business as usual' with regard to Rackheath's planned eco-town, despite uncertainty over its future under a new government.Kim Briscoe

It is 'business as usual' with regard to Rackheath's planned eco-town, despite uncertainty over its future under a new government.

That was the update from the council and developers working on the eco-town scheme, which will see more than 4,000 homes built in the area between Rackheath and Salhouse.

Phil Kirby, Broadland's chief planner, said: 'We are waiting for confirmation from the coalition government in respect of the eco-town programme.

'We have been speaking to people in the Department of Communities and Local Government and they haven't indicated that it is anything other than business as usual for the time being.'

Mr Kirby said as early meeting had been requested with the new minister Grant Shapps so that a case could be made for the programme to continue.

This week Broadland District Council agreed to invite outside consultants to bid to carry out the professional planning function for the anticipated planning application for the 'exemplar' development of the Rackheath eco-community, which will feature 200 homes.

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While the council's officers are capable of carrying out this work themselves, members of the council's cabinet agreed that to ensure the application will not be prejudiced it would be better to tender for outside and independent planners to do the work.

Andrew Proctor, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for planning policy and conservation, said: 'We don't have to use consultants, but we should.'

It is proposed the cost of any consultants should be met by using the Rackheath Eco-Coimmunity Growth Fund.

The council is also looking to work with the Building Research Establishment Trust (BRE) as a strategic partner in delivering the first 'exemplar' phase of the eco-community and low carbon sustainable development across the community.

While this approach needs �100,000 to fund the BRE Trust work, finance portfolio holder Alan Mallett said this can be used from the Rackheath Eco-Community Growth Fund so the cost would not impact directly upon Broadland council tax payers.

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