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Councillors defer greater Norwich homes plan

PUBLISHED: 16:48 29 September 2010

Fresh questions were raised today about the fate of controversial plans to build thousands of homes in and around Norwich after councillors put on hold a bid to build more than 600 homes near Dussindale.

Fresh questions were raised today about the fate of controversial plans to build thousands of homes in and around Norwich after councillors put on hold a bid to build more than 600 homes near Dussindale.

Developers Lothbury Trust were seeking outline planning permission to develop 57 hectares of farmland on the edge of Dussindale, Thorpe St Andrew, which would also include an extension to the Broadland Business park.

The scheme had sparked opposition from people living nearby about overdevelopment and there were also concerns that they breached the council’s own policies and the developers were not willing to stump up anywhere near the £5m needed to pay for new schools, public transport links and libraries.

But members of Broadland District Council’s planning committee said a decision should be deferred because of uncertainties surrounding the growth plans including the joint core strategy (JCS) and whether the government would fund the proposed Northern distributor road (NDR).

Residents were also concerned that the developers only wanted to the homes to help fund the proposed link road.

Councillors in Broadland, Norwich, and South Norfolk are this week rubber-stamping the JCS proposals in a series of meetings, but in a further twist the meeting heard that Lothbury has also launched a high court legal challenge against Broadland’s decision to grant planning permission to the neighbouring Broadland Gate plans in December last year, which if successful could mean that plans for more than 3,000 jobs would have to go back to the drawing board.

Simon Radford, chief executive of Lothbury Investment Management, said the scheme would help create 1700 new jobs, while the proposed link road

“Lothbury has made a long-term commitment to Broadland,” he said. “We are not in-out get rich quick developers. This will be a quality sustainable design to the same high standards that characterises Lothbury’s work in the business park.”

But councillors rejected the scheme because there were too many uncertainties surrounding the growth plans and they had only been presented with new information linked to paying for new developments on the day of the meeting itself.

And there was also concern about the proposal for 24pc of the new houses to be affordable homes - well short of the council’s 40pc target.

Aylsham councillor Jo Cottingham, said the application was premature and should be delayed until the other uncertainties were resolved.

“I really can’t see how we can make a decision at this date,” she said. “We are awaiting the inspector’s decision on the JCS, we know there is a judicial review on the Postwick Hub, and we are waiting for a government announcement on the NDR following the comprehensive spending review. We’ve already said no development without any infrastructure, yet we are expected to make a decision on 600 dwellings.

Another councillor, Ian Graham, said: “We are being asked to debate things that have only come in at the last minute and we shouldn’t be dealing with this application at all.

“This isn’t a planned development at all in my view, it’s a speculative development and all these other questions are unresolved.

Meanwhile the committee also approved to scale back the number of affordable homes for a separate scheme off Blueboar Lane in Sprowston.

Developers had previously been given the green light 1,233 homes at White House Farm, but were seeking to reduce the number of low cost homes from 500 to 370.

But the meeting ruled that the target should be 430 homes, or a rate of 35pc.

They also said the developer should pay £1.4m towards increasing the capacity of Sprowston primary school, £135,000 towards an extension to Sprowston Library, and £135,000 towards traffic reduction measures.

Committee chairman Mike Snowling, said: “We are always reluctant to reduce the number of affordable homes in a development, but we are also mindful of the changing economic climate that has made things difficult for developers.”

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