December 5 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 26, 2013
The go-ahead has been given for 3,500 homes to be built in Sprowston and Old Catton, with council officers acknowledging the development will change the face of the area forever.
Two new primary schools, a library, health centre, cafes, pubs, shops, a hotel and businesses also form part of the scheme which has been granted outline planning permission by Broadland councillors.
It will see the transformation of more than 207 hectares of land to the north of Sprowston and Old Catton, between Wroxham Road and St Faiths Road.
The plans were put forward by Beyond Green, representing a group of five landowners, including Norfolk County Council and also include creating 82.5 hectares of green space, including a new public park on the land of Beeston Hall.
Members of Broadland District Council’s planning committee agreed yesterday, by 14 votes to one, to approve the proposals, with a string of conditions attached.
The scheme has generated opposition and officers, in their report to councillors, acknowledged the scale of the development.
They said: “This development represents one of the most significant proposals to be considered by the council in recent times. There is no doubt that it will change the landscape in which it is proposed forever.”
But officers recommended approval, saying the new homes would go a long way to meeting housing needs in “a well planned, considered and sustainable way.”
The development will be built in stages over the next 15 to 20 years, with Beyond Green hoping work will start in 2015, once further consultation, such as the design of the homes, is completed.
Neil Murphy, director of planning at Beyond Green, recognised that the large scale of the development had caused concern, but said it would be a “superb” new Broadland community.
He said it would make a “sizeable contribution to housing”, would create 1,000 new jobs and a further 200 each year during its construction.
With a central square and local shops, Mr Murphy said: “It will have a development layout that encourages face to face contact and puts local facilities in a short and attractive walk from homes.”
Consultation with the local community has been held since the proposals were revealed in 2011 and the developers say they have made changes based on what people told them.
The development will be the first for Beyond Green, but executive chairman Jonathan Smales, said: “To outline how committed we are to this project, we thoroughly enjoyed the consultation and we are determined to follow through. We set this company up in order to follow through.”
Homes, which will be a mix of affordable and private homes, with various numbers of bedrroms, will have an average of 1.5 car parking spaces, while changes will be made to roads to create the main square for the new development.
However, the scheme has not been universally welcomed. An online petition was set up calling for the scheme to be scrapped
and last November more than a hundred people gathered in Church Lane, Sprowston to back the Say No to Sprowston Redevelopment campaign.
Campaigners said they were concerned about the impact on traffic and on schools, They also questioned why brownfield sites could not be built on instead.
More than 60 people wrote to the council about the plans, with one objector claiming it was “madness” that the council should consider the application before the joint core strategy - a blueprint for where thousands of homes should be built - has been fully adopted.
Council officers said it was “technically” premature to approve the plans, but that “material considerations” weighed “strongly” in its favour.
Sprowston Town Council also raised concerns, with Bill Couzens, town and district councillor urging his fellow councillors to reject the application.
He said: “One group of residents has raised concerns about flooding. Trying to get information on that has been like drawing teeth.
“Flooding isn’t just something to do with insurance. It devastates lives and we need to take it very seriously.”
But officers said Anglian Water had no objections and concerns initially raised by the Environment Agency had been eased because of proposed mitigation measures.
Ian Graham, Conservative district councillor for Aylsham, said: “I am pleased with the way the developers went about their business and really pleased with the outcome. There are ideas which are quite forward looking and I think we will end up with a good place.”
However, Peter Balcombe, Liberal Democrat district councillor for Hellesdon South East, who was the only councillor to vote against the plans, said he remained concerned about the risk of flooding.
He warned: “It’s not something we should just sweep aside.”