Major blow for new 10,000 home Mid-Norfolk Garden Town plans as councillors recommended to reject proposals
PUBLISHED: 12:18 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:32 28 August 2018
A divisive vision for a 10,000 home town in mid Norfolk has been dealt a blow after councillors were advised not to give their backing to the plans.
Breckland District Council officers have informally considered Norwich-based developer Lanpro’s plans for a garden town the size of Thetford between Dereham and Fakenham.
A Breckland district council spokesperson said: “We will not recommend councillors support the garden town concept at this stage due to a number of factors.”
District councillor for Upper Wensum ward, Bill Borrett, said: “It’s fantastic news and I think it’s absolutely common sense.
“There’s no transport infrastructure that could cope with a settlement there.
“The highways department at Norfolk County Council said the money available wouldn’t scratch the surface for a town that size.
“According to the government call for sites [for garden towns], they need council support to make the shortlist.
“It’s the result I was hoping for.”
The council has not received a formal planning application for a new garden town but Lanpro’s plans were reviewed in light of the government’s garden communities prospectus.
And the recommendation to councillors not to back the plans will be issued at a Breckland full council meeting, on Thursday, October 25. Officers will recommend that the concept not be given council support at this stage and that no resources are made available to support the development of the proposals. The council’s local plan was recently inspected and is expected to be approved as the district’s blueprint for growth until 2036.
A Breckland spokesperson said: “The draft local plan has been carefully considered and been subject to full public consultation.
“When adopted, it will map out how the district’s housing, employment and infrastructure needs will be met in the future.
“We remain confident that this can be achieved without the need for a new garden town.”
They added: “Council officers have also not seen sufficient evidence of public consultation and engagement around the garden town concept.
“However, we remain open to discussing the idea of a new garden town in Norfolk when our local plan is reviewed.”
A Lanpro spokesperson was not available for comment ahead of publication.
What are the plans for a new town in mid Norfolk?
Plans for a new 10,000 home town in mid Norfolk were revealed by this newspaper last month.
The proposal, prepared by Norwich planners, Lanpro, is for a town the size of Thetford situated between the villages of North Elmham, Billingford and Bintree.
A project summary called the 1,294 acre site “the first planned new settlement within Norfolk”.
But the initial proposal was criticised, with district councillor Bill Borrett calling the proposals “extremely concerning” and countryside protection campaigners claiming the “pressure on local services would be unbearable”.
Lanpro also came under fire for using an image from a city planning computer game to illustrate the new town.
The developers defended its use, and said the document was only ever intended to be distributed internally.
Managing director Chris Leeming highlighted the “serious use of this software” in city planning projects.
Reaction to Breckland district council’s recommendation
The news that councillors will be advised to reject plans for a new 10,000 home town prompted a mixed reaction.
David Fairbairn-Day wrote in a comment on our website: “This was a flawed and ill thought out proposal and deserves to be rejected by all relevant authorities.”
And Bonney Bulmer posted on our sister newspaper the Dereham Times’ Facebook page and said: “[The] simple fact is we don’t have the infrastructure.”
Sam Cranmer added: “That’s fantastic news for all concerned. Common sense prevailed.”
But David Maidstone disagreed, and said: “Better a purpose built town with infrastructure than 20 houses here, [or] 100 houses there.”
And Owen Taylor-Roberts asked: “Where do you think your grandchildren will live in 20 or 30 years if developers stopped building?”
Another person who commented on our website hailed it as a “major victory for common sense”.
What do you think about the council’s decision not to recommend the plans for backing? Where would you like to see new homes built in Norfolk? Email reporter Jessica.Frank-Keyes@archant.co.uk