Plan for 4,000 homes in Hethersett

Sarah HallControversial proposals which could see up to 4,000 new homes built on the outskirts of Norwich have been revived by a group of landowners - to the fury of families who thought they had seen off development on such a large scale.Sarah Hall

Controversial proposals which could see up to 4,000 new homes built on the outskirts of Norwich have been revived by a group of landowners - to the fury of families who thought they had seen off development on such a large scale.

Norwich-based property company Bidwells has been asked by a company working with a consortium of landowners in Hethersett to pave the way for a forthcoming planning application.

Hethersett Land Ltd, which has a registered office in Knightsbridge, London, is planning to submit a planning application for 315 hectares of farmland to the north and west of the village and makes clear a later planning application could be for as many as 4,000 homes.

But the move has reignited concern among villagers, who, just over a year ago, headed off proposals for up to 4,000 new homes to be built by 2026. Opponents fear the development could turn the village into a county town or a city suburb.

The Greater Norwich Development Partnership rejected suggestions for that many homes in the village and decided instead to plan for around a thousand in its Joint Core Strategy.

However, with a future application for up to 4,000 homes in mind Bidwells has asked South Norfolk Council to give an opinion on whether an environment impact assessment would need to be carried out.

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Hethersett Parish Council this week said they would certainly require such an assessment and said a presentation by Bidwells in December had made no reference to the sheer scale of how much development its clients had in mind.

The 20-page supporting document prepared by Bidwells says the main objective is 'to create a development which links seamlessly to the existing village of Hethersett to create a vibrant 'sustainable settlement' which has a thriving, cohesive community'.

The document says modern construction and technology would be used to minimise energy and carbon usage, with a mix of types of home.

It also says a new east to west road would be built to the north of Hethersett, new education facilities would be provided and some form of 'poly clinic' could be provided to ease pressure on full-up surgeries.

Ian Weetman, clerk of the parish council, said: 'It is at a very early stage, but we are interested in how this proposal fits in with the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) strategy which was agreed for 1,000 homes in Hethersett.

'We would make the point that as part of our consultation response to the GNDP, 4,000 homes were suggested and we said it would be better to have that between Hethersett and the Thickthorn roundabout to create a new settlement, rather than adding to what we have in Hethersett.'

Mr Weetman added Bidwells had made a presentation to the parish council in December but added: 'That was really an information gathering exercise but it is significant that there was no mention then that there might be up to 4,000 homes.

'If this does go further we will be very active in making representations. They themselves say that this would turn Hethersett from a village into a county town and that might not be what the people in Hethersett want.'

Rebecca Rejzek, partner at Bidwells, stressed the 'proposed sustainable urban extension' was at a very early stage. She said: 'We are looking at the potential for development in Hethersett but we are months and months away from a potential planning application.

'The Environmental Impact Assessment screening request is to check with South Norfolk Council whether we would need to carry out that assessment.

'It's to enable us to carry out background checks and research which would potentially support a planning application in the future.'

She said Hethersett Land Ltd were not landowners, but said a group of landowners were aware that the land was being promoted by the company for potential development.

She added 'community engagement exercises' would be carried out in Hethersett in April.

David Bills, who represents Hethersett on South Norfolk Council, said: 'We are somewhat concerned that we could become a suburb of Norwich.

'As cabinet member for the environment I think an extra 4,000 homes on top of the 3,000 or so we have got simply isn't sustainable.

'They're thinking about some sort of link road to the north of Hethersett and with the traffic issues we already have it just seems to go against everything we are trying to do.'

Do you think Hethersett could cope with 4,000 extra homes? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email