Proposals for hundreds of homes on edge of Norwich held up due to dispute over railway bridge

PUBLISHED: 09:32 13 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:03 13 July 2017

The new link road would connect the Broadland Business Park to Plumstead Road East in the north. Picture: Mike Page

The new link road would connect the Broadland Business Park to Plumstead Road East in the north. Picture: Mike Page

Copypright Mike Page, All Rights Reserved Before any use is made of this picture, including dispaly, publication, broadcast, syn

Housing developments in Norfolk are being delayed because of a wrangle over the cost of building across the area’s railways, it has been revealed.

Stars of Norfolk Broadland District Council logo.Stars of Norfolk Broadland District Council logo.

Broadland Council’s head of planning Phil Courtier told a meeting of the authority’s planning committee that four to five planning applications across Norfolk are being held up because of negotiations with Network Rail about building on land the rail firm owns.

In Broadland, developers Lothbury Property Trust applied to make changes to their original plans to build 600 homes in Thorpe St Andrew and a new link road, which would connect Peachman Way to Plumstead Road East.

To complete the link road, a bridge would need to be built over the Norwich to Sheringham railway line.

As yet the developers have not been able to agree terms with Network Rail, with Adam Smith - director of Lothbury Investment, which owns Lothbury Property Trust - claiming the rail firm 
had demanded a “ransom figure” that was “in excess of seven figures”.

Network Rail engineer inspecting the tracks. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireNetwork Rail engineer inspecting the tracks. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Lothbury Property Trust urged councillors to push ahead with the plans by building 240 of the 600 homes and part of the link road.

However that was met with concern by members of the public and councillors, who rejected the changes on the grounds that the increase in traffic going under the Green Lane North bridge would be unsafe.

They also feared the link road would not be completed.

Mr Smith had argued it would make sense to start phase one of building the road while the remaining details were finalised.

Network Rail logo.Network Rail logo.

“It is totally illogical that Lothbury would not complete the link road after all the money it has spent providing infrastructure for 600 homes,” he added.

Asked how much it was asking for from the developer, a spokesman from Network Rail said: “We have to close the line and any bridge over the line would need to be compliant and over each weekend, the train operator would have to be compensated - so that’s why it is so expensive.

“As a tax-payer funded organisation, we have a duty to spend that money wisely, getting the best deal possible for the public.

“We work with developers all across the country because it’s absolutely vital they support this approach by helping pay for the infrastructure that supports their development.”

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