Green business centre planned for Rackheath

Shaun LowthorpeBritain's first ultra green business park powered by three 50ft wind turbines and underground heating could be built on the edge of Norwich if a new �4m scheme gets the go-ahead.Shaun Lowthorpe

Britain's first ultra green business park powered by three 50ft wind turbines and underground heating could be built on the edge of Norwich if a new �4m scheme gets the go-ahead.

City-based agents Building Partnerships wants to build it at Dakenham Hall in Rackheath - with the prospect of more than 125 new jobs.

The scheme would see the demolition of existing farm buildings and construction of one single storey building and another two storey building using different eco-friendly designs and materials such as hemcrete to lower carbon emissions.

Although not officially part of the surrounding Ecotown proposals for the area, the agent say the plans will sit alongside the wider scheme.

They would also include storage for 52 bikes, parking for 79 cars, recycling facilities, and an enhanced pedestrian link to Salhouse.

Business tenants would also be expected to sign up to Green travel plan to make use of car sharing plans and nearby bus and rail links.

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But Salhouse parish council has objected to the plans because of concerns about the closeness of the wind turbines to nearby homes, and fears the business centre has no correlation to the Ecotown plans.

Rackheath parish council has also objected because of access and traffic concerns around Muck Lane and the cutting down of trees and shrubs.

While campaign group SNUB is questioning the green credentials of the scheme amid concerns about safety and impact of the planned wind turbines.

Members of Broadland District Council's planning committee will consider the plans on Wednesday .

Stephen Heard, chairman of SNUB, said his group had produced an 18-page document questioning the building centres green credentials and were seeking permission to give a 15-minute presentation to councillors to make the case against - three times longer than the usual five minutes.

'There's quite a lot of marketing spin and information that's not really evidenced based,' Mr Heard said. 'If this goes ahead and Ecotown doesn't it will cause huge amounts of problems.'

Paul Knowles, director of Building Partnerships, said the designs had been amended to take on board earlier concerns and the design met the highest green standards making it unique in the country.

He said the goal was to prove that commercial buildings could be built at the same cost as traditional ones, which had the potential to revolutionise the industry.

'Everybody says that green offices cost more, what we did is sat down with Broadland District Council and said we could design a green building that cost the same as a non-green building,' he said. 'By keeping the same cost, we are reducing the carbon footprint of these buildings compared to the Broadland Business Park by 80pc

'The vision is to have green buildings that are sufficiently attractive to small businesses,' he added. 'There are very few office buildings that are available to small businesses which are green, we want to address that and show it's viable, all we have got to do is think about how we can put them together.

'We have been to agents and their view is that there is a reasonably strong demand for this new units, but there is nothing else about in Norwich that meets the green agenda. It's sending a message that you can build green buildings at the same price as traditional buildings.'