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I’m not against Garden Towns, but the Mid-Norfolk project has been badly planned, badly communicated and badly presented

PUBLISHED: 16:43 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:35 14 August 2018

The image from the Cities: Skylines computer game used in the Lanpro prospectus about the Mid Norfolk Garden Town, Image: Lanpro/Colossal Order

The image from the Cities: Skylines computer game used in the Lanpro prospectus about the Mid Norfolk Garden Town, Image: Lanpro/Colossal Order

Archant

Having worked in local media for almost two decades now (I know, looking at me you’d swear I was much older), I spend a lot of time thinking about our role in the community and how that impacts our coverage.

One reader thinks the garden town, which could be built on this site near North Elmham, is a One reader thinks the garden town, which could be built on this site near North Elmham, is a "harebrained" scheme. Photo: Archant

Should we act as a neutral platform for information, simply providing the news in a straight forward way, but staying away from taking sides?

Or is it part of our role to challenge, take a stance and provide some sort of conclusion to our devoted and loyal readers to help them frame their own views?

The answer, I believe, is probably somewhere in the middle.

If we chose to take sides in every single issue we covered, I would imagine you the reader would quickly grow very tired of being preached at.

However, there are times when we will choose to give a view or a verdict, if we believe there is a clear and obvious wrong being committed or at the very least serious concerns that need to be highlighted.

And we’re currently in the midst of one particular story where we have been very clear in our concerns over what is being proposed. I am referring to the recently revealed proposals to build a large Garden Town in the middle of our county.

For those who have missed it, developer Lanpro has devised a grand plan to place 10,000 homes between the villages of North Elmham, Billingford and Bintree in mid-Norfolk.

Let’s get one thing straight, neither myself nor the EDP (for we don’t always have to share the same opinions) has anything against the prospect of new and potentially large scale development in the county.

I don’t aspire to the opinion that something like a garden town or village would ‘spoil Norfolk’ or be the final push to take us over the edge of some imaginary cliff.

I’ve said before in this column that, done properly, a new settlement could be exciting and a real shot in the arm, while allowing us to easily keep all of the rural Norfolk charm that we all hold so dear.

It could bring in more business, more investment and be the key when it comes to making the case for some of our much needed infrastructure improvements, like the dualling of the A47 and so-called missing link with the NDR.

However, the key is that it has to be development that is right for Norfolk, considered fully by local communities and presented in an acceptable fashion.

And I’m afraid to say this particular project falls short of meeting any of those criteria. It’s been badly planned, badly communicated and badly presented and should not go any further in its current format.

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