Tug-of-war over whether 7,200 homes should be built in Norwich or further afield
PUBLISHED: 08:12 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:08 23 February 2018
A tug-of-war is under way over where homes in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk should be built by 2036.
There are major divisions between leaders over whether they should be built in the city or further afield in the county.
Council bosses say that, between now and 2036, they need to provide sites for nearly 43,000 new homes in Greater Norwich - the area covered by councils in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.
While the sites for some 35,000 of those homes has been established, that leaves locations for 7,200 still to be found.
Consultation over the strategy, known as the Greater Norwich Local Plan, is under way and the public is invited to give their views.
The approach being taken is to establish a ‘baseline’ of 3,900 homes, with 1,700 on previously developed land within Norwich and the built up areas of the fringe parishes.
At least 1,000 more would be in towns and key service centres, 1,000 in what are known as service villages and 200 in other villages.
But it is where the remaining 3,300 homes will be built which is causing friction between the leaders of the councils involved.
Norwich City Council’s Labour leader Alan Waters favours development in and near Norwich, while South Norfolk Conservative leader John Fuller has been pushing for more dispersal of the homes into rural areas.
Mr Waters is planning to submit an economic analysis report prepared for the city council by GVA Hatch into the consultation, which backs his view on why growth focused on Norwich is so crucial.
That report says the city is one of the fastest growing in the UK and that: “The economic dynamism of the city underpins the regional economy and as such its significance as an economic driver, attractor of investment and of skilled labour must not be underestimated.”
It said the Norwich Policy Area (which stretches from Wymondham and Marlingford in the west to Long Stratton in the south, Horsford to the north and Salhouse, Blofield and Brundall to the east) is the “obvious location for intensive future economic and housing growth”.
Mr Waters said: “We want to include this major piece of research in the submission. It’s a serious piece of research.
“I think it clarifies what is important in terms of investing in the Greater Norwich economy.
“The fact is that we have got targets for jobs and people are going to want to live near to those jobs.
“It’s my view that you have to recognise that urban areas are where those jobs are likely to be and it makes sense for the homes to be there, rather than dispersed.
“Clearly, we have to understand the rural situation too and the need to complement each other. But unless you focus on the urban area you might not get the investment and jobs we want. I don’t see the dispersal of the homes as the most effective way of getting that.
But Mr Fuller has been making the case for growth further afield.
He said: “What everyone can see is that nowadays Norwich’s gravitational pull extends much further into Norfolk than was previously the case in the 1970s and 80s, when the current planning boundaries were set. That pull will be extended still further when the NDR and Long Stratton bypass are complete.
“The latest government data for the local commuting, housing and labour market shows that the influence of Norwich extends at least as far as Diss and Aylsham. And at least as far as Acle to Hingham.
“The overwhelming weight of independent evidence shows that it makes most sense to describe the Greater Norwich economy as the whole footprint of Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.
“Anything less would sell our residents and businesses short and deny the obvious truth that it is quicker to commute to Norwich from Diss by train than it is to get from Norwich airport to City Hall by car.
“Planning for the whole local economy must take that all into account.
“The same consultants made that point when they advised the Greater Norwich Development Partnership when analysing local retail trends and shopping patterns last year, so it’s strange that they have been paid by Norwich City Council to say something different now.”
The public can take part in the consultation over where the homes should be built at www.GNLP.org.uk
The consultation runs until Thursday, March 15.