A reassessment of where thousands of homes should be built in and around Norwich over the next 15 years has concluded the north east of the city is still the best spot for up to 10,000 houses.

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Following a legal challenge, council officers were forced to look again at the joint core strategy – a blueprint for where 37,000 homes could be built in Norwich, parts of Broadland and parts of South Norfolk – between now and 2026.

A judicial review obtained by Salhouse campaigner Stephen Heard saw Mr Justice Ouseley rule that the councils behind the blueprint had not demonstrated why an area to the north east of Norwich was picked for up to 10,000 homes, ahead of alternative locations.

He told the councils, which make up the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP), to reassess the north-east growth triangle – which includes Rackheath, Old Catton, Spixworth and Thorpe St Andrew.

A report being considered by the GNDP board tomorrow shows how independent consultants URS have re-examined the ‘north-east growth triangle’ and considered any ‘reasonable alternatives’ to it.

Eighteen options within the Norwich policy area were initially considered, but the number was taken down to three, which will be put before councillors tomorrow.

The GNDP says all three have gone through a sustainability appraisal, being judged against a range of environmental, economic and social criteria.

One option would limit development to inside the route of the planned northern distributor road around Norwich, while another would disperse 2,400 of the new homes around the north west and north east of Broadland, with a further 4,600 being built in Hethersett and Cringleford in South Norfolk rather than in Broadland.

But the report recommends that the north east growth triangle should remain the most appropriate option for the homes.

Andrew Proctor, GNDP chairman and leader of Broadland District Council, said: “The recommendation that the north east growth triangle is the most appropriate has been thoroughly tested and checked at every turn in the spirit of the court’s ruling.

“If the recommendation is agreed this week and eventually by the partnership constituent councils, we hope that this will end the period of uncertainty and provide clarity for residents and businesses alike so that we can properly move forward with our plans to deliver sustainable growth, much needed homes and new jobs to the area.”

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said the rejection of the Hethersett/Cringleford homes alternative would finally signal that South Norfolk cannot take the homes.

If all the councils in the GNDP agree with the recommendation, the public will be consulted later in the year.

Comments on that would go back to the councils in November, when a decision would be made on whether to formally submit the remitted parts of the plan and comments made to public examination, likely to be in early 2013.

An independent planning inspector would then look at the issues, before deciding whether the plan can be adopted by the GNDP next summer.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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