'Grossly overpopulated': Fears over new 725 homes plan for city

An aerial view of the four sites which are being earmarked for development in Thorpe St Andrew

An aerial view of the four sites which are being earmarked for development in Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Submitted

Hundreds of new homes planned for a city suburb have been met with despair by people living there who fear roads, GPs and schools will be overrun.

Plans have now formally been submitted for four sites in Thorpe St Andrew. 

The outline plans have been put in for 575 homes across three Yarmouth Road sites - 105 in Langley North, 175 in Langley South and 295 in Pinebanks - and a further 150 homes in Griffin Lane. 

Both Griffin Lane and Langley South would be accessed via Yarmouth Road with a new roundabout being proposed to serve the other 150 homes at the Griffin Lane site. 

The former Pinebanks site in Thorpe St Andrew where it is proposed to build a development. Picture:

The former Pinebanks site in Thorpe St Andrew where it is proposed to build a development. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Philip Clay, 51, of Hillcrest Road, has been among those leading the fight against the number of additional vehicle movements passing through his street as a result of the new homes. 

He has concerns over drainage waste and the strain on local services in addition to the impact on traffic.

Mr Clay said: "I think they need to guarantee that there will be three access points rather than it coming down to the last minute and we can't use Yarmouth Road all of a sudden. Increased traffic along Hillcrest Road and Henby Way would not be acceptable. 

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"Even before Covid I could not get a doctor or dentist appointment so the whole service was difficult before the additional strain.

"It feels like we are kept in the dark and need to play all our cards up front." 

The applicant Berliet Limited has pledged new cycle and pedestrian links within the development, and to retain existing woodland.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments agreed with the council will be used to fund "infrastructure required locally" which could include green spaces, sport and education provision.

Ocubis Ltd, which acts as development manager for the site owner, also added a full traffic impact assessment was undertaken and agreed by highways.

The current Pinebanks site also includes the former sports centre, which has been unused since 2008, and has now become overgrown and derelict.

It was purchased by the applicant Berliet Limited in December 2009. 

And Laura Harvey, 38, of Henby Way, agrees about the negative impact on existing infrastructure, stating schools in the town are already at full capacity.

Her nine-year-old daughter Millie has set up a petition opposing the development which has now collected more than 1,100 signatures since its launch in the spring. 

Nine-year-old Millie Harvey, front, holding her poster and petition against houses being built at th

Nine-year-old Millie Harvey, front, holding her poster and petition against houses being built at the former Pinebanks site in Thorpe St Andrew, with her family and neighbours from Henby Way - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mrs Harvey said: "It's the sheer scale of the proposal which causes concern and I think a lot of people think it's a done deal and they are not going to be listened to.

"This is a nice area. My children are eight and nine but by the time it is finished, they will be nearly 20-years-old. To think of all the heavy machinery and pollution as they grow up is a worry."

Ian Mackie, Thorpe St Andrew county councillor, has voiced approval over the ancient pits north of South Avenue not forming part of the development which he had lobbied for.

Councillor Ian Mackie pictured at the Pits in Thorpe St Andrew

Councillor Ian Mackie pictured at the Pits in Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Submitted

Mr Mackie added: "The Pinebanks scheme has been long coming, over a decade, and with the addition of the former school site the development has grown considerably which is a big concern locally.

"I welcome the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a link between the north and south sites which would cause rat-running.

"I am concerned however about the volume of properties proposed, especially off Hillcrest Road and Henby Way, not forgetting the sizeable site off Griffin Lane exiting onto Yarmouth Road.

"This whole plan however needs very careful consideration because as demonstrated by the petition, people are feeling as if they are being bounced into a decision that is far from the original concept.”

And Mark Appel, who owns Bishy Barney Day Boats in Thorpe St Andrew, said: "I do not like the expansion of all the villages around Norwich which is already grossly overpopulated. 

Mark Appel of Bishy Barney Day Boats in Thorpe St Andrew

Mark Appel of Bishy Barney Day Boats in Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Ian Mackie

"But at the same time people need houses and I much prefer building on brownfield land rather than digging up for the sake of housing.

"The buildings have been disused for many years so it makes more sense to turn into new housing." 

Stephen Chatfield, development director at Ocubis Ltd, development manager for site owner Berliet Ltd, said the principle of access via Henby Way and Hillcrest Way was established in 2013 in accordance with approved planning permission.

It is expected the phased construction could take around eight years.