December 9 2013 Latest news:
By Andrew Papworth
Thursday, October 3, 2013
A council has rejected claims by a resident who is campaigning against a blueprint for new homes in his village that it has not done a proper consultation.
Kelvin Loveday, whose Broomhill home in Downham Market backs onto one of the sites earmarked for new homes, said West Norfolk council had only been “following the minimum of what’s required”.
For the past 10 weeks the council has been consulting on its local development framework, which says that 16,500 new homes need to be built by 2026 to meet the needs of a growing population.
Mr Loveday, who objects to the proposals and has held a public meeting encouraging opponents to make their concerns heard, said that in his opinion there had been a “complete lack of transparency” over the process and that residents were not being properly consulted.
“How on earth can you consider it a successful consultation just because someone put a few adverts in a newspaper, put a few posters around the town and held a few workshops?” he said.
But a council spokesman said there had been a campaign of advertisements and that more than 1,000 had responded to the consultation, adding that their views were being noted and taken into consideration.
“Whilst we acknowledge that it has not been possible to write to every individual, we have made every effort to ensure people were aware of the consultation and why it was important to get involved,” the spokesman said.
The council said it had placed advertisements in three local newspapers, run several public drop-in sessions, placed notices at each of the provisionally chosen sites and sent more than 1,000 letters and emails to people and organisations who had previously expressed an interest in the plans.
The drop-in events included one in Downham Market, where concerns about pressures on infrastructure and merging with nearby villages were discussed and noted.
The spokesman said: “There was a general understanding of what was under consideration and lots of discussions about the merits and demerits of the plans and possible alternatives.
“We are pleased with the level of interest we’ve received and all the feedback we’ve had is really useful. Development being discussed as part of the consultation would not take place overnight, but gradually over the next 13 years, as the plan covers the period up to 2026.”
The consultation is due to finish on Friday. Details of the proposals and how to comment are available on the borough council’s website and at council offices and libraries.