Can our city cope with yet more housing proposals?

Various new developments being built around Horsford.Byline: Sonya Duncan

Various developments are being earmarked for the Norwich area - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Yet more plans for new homes in Norwich have been submitted - but experts have warned the city cannot cope if projects are not paired with added infrastructure. 

A reserved matters application for 272 homes in land north off Smee Lane in Great Plumstead has recently been submitted to Broadland District Council with conditions for drainage included.

It comes as the Greater Norwich Local Plan has seen plans submitted to the government for 45,000 new homes built in the area by 2041. 

Where homes could be built under the Greater Norwich Local Plan. Photo: Broadland District Council,

Where homes could be built under the Greater Norwich Local Plan. Photo: Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council, South Norfolk District Council - Credit: Archant

Town planning analyst Anthony Breach, of think tank Centre for Cities, said the expansion of Norwich can create an infrastructure "bottleneck" with schools needing to be urgently addressed in urban planning. 

Although the analyst believes more homes can address affordability and housing inequality issues, he also highlighted the demand on existing services.

Mr Breach said: "As cities get bigger, there is more demand to be in the city centre for shopping, activities and restaurants.

"It is not just about building new homes but a question of how can Norwich provide better public transport and measures to cut down on unnecessary car journeys." 

Anthony Breach an analyst at the independent Centre for Cities think-tank

Anthony Breach an analyst at the independent Centre for Cities think-tank - Credit: Centre for Cities

Plans are already in place which identify locations for three quarters of the new homes identified in the Greater Norwich Local Plan.

Over 5,000 of those were built between 2018 and 2020.

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This has also raised questions over whether the city's education system can manage the numbers of new families needing places for their children to attend school.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said officials have been pressing the government to take more action to help issues around education funding and teacher supply.

But she insisted local authorities and schools have "pretty accurate systems" for identifying the demand for school places as a result of population growth and new housing development.

Mrs McCulloch said: "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.

"Potential sponsors are generally existing multi-academy trusts. There may also be capacity to expand the number of classes in some schools. It really all depends on the circumstances."

Orbit Homes is the applicant for the Great Plumstead plans which include a two-form entry primary school after outline planning permission was approved in December 2018. 

The developer's plans for Great Plumstead includes a connected development of 11 self-build residential plots and associated infrastructure. This was granted outline approval in December 2018. 

There is also a hybrid planning application for up to 550 new homes, including market and affordable homes for Broadland Fields in Thorpe St Andrew. 

The suburb has been identified as an area of urban extension outside of Norwich as part of a joint core strategy adopted by Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk Councils. 

County councillor Ian Mackie, who represents Thorpe St Andrew and Great Plumstead, said the school is vitally important for the proposals for the land north off Smee Lane.

Mr Mackie said: "I am very concerned about increased development in an area already experiencing flooding issues.

"This is another one of the developments in the pipeline which are moving forward along with Brook Farm in Little Plumstead." 

County councillor Ian Mackie 

County councillor Ian Mackie - Credit: Submitted

Orbit's conditions also include a surface drainage system which incorporates permeable paving, filter drains, swales and a surface water attenuation basis for surface water to run off. 

But Mr Mackie raised concerns over where the surface water will go to and called for an independent evaluation to ensure adequate drainage.

The councillor also questioned whether the new Great Plumstead homes could exacerbate "rat-running" down small country roads in the area.

Orbit's plans include 93 affordable homes with a range of housing types proposed. 

The developer said: "The application has been submitted following pre-application discussions and consultation with officers at Broadland District Council.

"The proposed scheme has taken into account and responded positively to the comments received from officers."