'Tougher stance': Plans to control new housing in Norwich suburb

Pinebanks in Thorpe St Andrew.
Taken by Mike Page.

The Pinebanks site in Thorpe St Andrew, one of many approved development plans in the town - Credit: Mike Page

With concerns being expressed over ongoing development in a town on the edge of Norwich, councillors have said a tougher stance against construction is being explored. 

A third consultation on the Thorpe St Andrew Neighbourhood Development Plan 2018-38 is being launched before it is approved by planning authorities and subject to a referendum. 

The document emphasises the importance of retaining a "strong sense of place" with the town independent of Norwich under the jurisdiction of Broadland District Council.

But with ongoing schemes such as the Pinebanks plans, which have seen more than 950 people sign a petition against it, councillors are concerned about the strain on existing services.

Friends of Thorpe Woods also want to strengthen the plan to rule out future development thereby protecting green spaces and woodlands. 

Ian Mackie, district and county councillor, said: "Thorpe is on the cusp of significant housing growth, and everyone with goodwill wants this to be a success, but in reality it could overwhelm existing services already at full capacity, be it our schools, road networks, the environment or medical centres.

"I think it requires a clear strategic vision and a detailed approach to expanding the social, environment and decision making infrastructure to accommodate the increase in numbers." 

Mr Mackie said the example of Sprowston Town Council which has used developer contributions to invest in amenities is a good one to follow. 

He also said Thorpe St Andrew Town Council missed an opportunity to purchase the Buck Public House on Yarmouth Road for the community given its prime location and car park. 

The Buck Inn at Thorpe St Andrew which is closed and up for sale. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Buck Inn at Thorpe St Andrew which is closed and up for sale. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Town councillor Stuart Snelling said it is important the Neighbourhood Plan [NP] restricts what developers who have already made plans can do. 

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Like Friends of Thorpe Woods, Mr Snelling said the protection of community spaces, woodlands and green spaces is important. 

Mr Snelling added: "We hope the NP toughens the stance at the moment to ensure less development, or if any development, offer tighter controls than at the present time. 

"It [NP] has taken a long while because of four different owners on the land. It is nothing to do with the council. Each time there is a different builder we have to come up with new plans and renegotiate to make sure it best fits in with the surrounding area." 

The River Green in Thorpe St Andrew 

Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Ian Mackie

Mr Snelling referred to the town council helping reduce the number of homes on the Racecourse Plantation from 1,200 to 300 as developer Socially Conscious Capital appealed plans which were initially refused in June 2017. 

The NP recognises all possible development sites in the town, namely Pinebanks, the Oasis, Griffin Lane and Brook Farm, have existing applications approved. 

Thorpe St Andrew county and district councillor John Fisher said the challenge is to "limit any major increase in numbers and density on these sites". 

Mr Fisher added: "The green areas identified from previous consultations in the plan are there as identified area but [they] are not under threat at the moment." 

It comes as Millie Harvey, 9, and two friends took a petition into school on behalf of residents from Henby Way against the Pinebanks and Griffin Lane proposals. 

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

The petition stated: "There is a lot of concern regarding this excessive and dangerous planning proposal. Not only is this damaging to local residents, the greater community but future generations and the environment.

"We all stand opposed to the new development proposals and would like the council to listen to the community, after all, that is who you are supposed to speak for and act on behalf of." 

Residents were dismayed to see developers Berliet and Ocubis increase their plans from 231 to 725 homes at Pinebanks, Griffin Lane and the more recently acquired former Langley Preparatory School site. 

Mr Mackie has held a long-held ambition to secure the swimming pool at the former school site for the community.

County councillor Ian Mackie 

County councillor Ian Mackie - Credit: Submitted

Mr Mackie said: "Developer contributions are going to be vital to ensure the needs of an aspirational community are met in a sustained way; the vision and aims of the NP will need to do the same."