What 45,000 new homes will mean for our city
- Credit: Norwich City Council
Tens of thousands of people will be flocking to the Fine City over the next two decades.
Plans have been submitted to government which would see 45,000 new homes built on Norwich turf by 2041.
But what is the impact on the city's schools, surgeries and transport network as a result of the Greater Norwich Local Plan?
The proposed scheme has been three years in the making and identifies sites for new homes, jobs and infrastructure.
Plans are already in place which identify locations for three-quarters of the new homes and over 5,000 of those were built between 2018 and 2020.
Among the areas which fall under the scheme are Sprowston, Old Catton, Horsford, Hellesdon, Drayton, Blofield and Great Plumstead.
And one of the most radical proposals in the Greater Norwich Local Plan is for a new garden village at Honingham Thorpe.
The total deliverable housing commitment for Sprowston, as an example, totals 1,246 between 2018 and 2038 in addition to the Beeston Park development of 3,500 homes in Old Catton.
But Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has called for infrastructure to be built as part of the plans to serve those living in the area in 20 years.
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She said: "The pandemic has caused an immediate squeeze but we need to plan sensibly for more homes too.
"That’s why I’m campaigning to have more GP and dentist appointments, and there are already investment plans to meet these demands."
Ms Smith said school places is a "top priority" to make sure children in Norwich have the best start in life with wise planning a necessity.
"The right transport links are also needed," she continued.
"That’s why I’ve supported the northern distributor road (NDR) from the beginning, and secured the investment to get it built. People simply need to get about, now and in the future.
"Good transport links means good jobs too because businesses can put down roots."
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis also insisted the plans must demonstrate a more robust commitment to the environment and transport links.
Mr Lewis said: "We need more homes certainly but we need more focus on ecology and the current transport network falls short."
The scheme also covers parts of Broadland and South Norfolk with an estimated £36m needing to be spent on new hospital beds, theatres and rooms, if the homes earmarked in the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) are built.
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the association of school and college leaders, said the resulting population boom may cause concerns surrounding education funding and teacher supply.
She said: "Per-pupil funding is extremely tight and that means any expansion of school places has to be very carefully managed to ensure the right level of resource is in place and this is affordable.
"This can be a very difficult balancing act.
"Schools often experience difficulties in recruiting teachers because of long-term shortages particularly in subjects such as maths, science, and modern foreign languages."
Mrs McCulloch said local authorities and schools have fairly accurate systems for identifying the demand for school places as a result of population growth and housing development.
"If there is a need for new schools to be built this is generally done by a process known as free school presumption in which the local authority runs a competition for sponsors to run the new school," she said.
Anthony Breach, a senior analyst for Centre for Cities, an independent think-tank for improving the economies of UK cities and towns, said building homes is needed to ensure greater affordability and equality in the city.
Mr Breach said: "It is really important to keep cities affordable and prosperous.
"There is a debate about where it goes and how we use infrastructure. There does need to be more houses within Norwich in a relatively expensive part of the country."
He said the UK is nationally building 240,000 houses a year compared to 400,000 in France and 800,000 in Japan.
Centre for Cities is therefore calling for a more rules-based system so developers can bypass planning committee decisions.
What is the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP)?
The GNLP was formally submitted to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to examine in late-July.
Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council are working together for the project.
They suggested more than 500 locations after a call for sites in 2015 and another 200 were subsequently put forward in 2018.
The plan's objectives include providing "high-quality homes of the right density, size, mix and tenure to meet people’s needs".
But there has been debate about how the homes should be spread out across the three districts.
Councillor Shaun Vincent, chairman of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership said: "We need to make sure that future growth brings benefits for all, while protecting our environment and providing for a sustainable future."