Reader Letter: Garden town could rip the heart out of Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 11:42 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:42 27 July 2018

One reader thinks the heart of Norfolk is at stake. Picture: Ian Burt

One reader thinks the heart of Norfolk is at stake. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

One reader thinks plans for new town spell disaster for the county. What do you think?

The suggested new Garden Town in Mid Norfolk has come as a great surprise to CPRE Norfolk and no doubt many residents across Norfolk, due to the fact that housing targets are already met by the provision of allocated sites within existing Local Plans, not to mention the thousands of additional (and in our view unnecessary) houses which will be allocated under emerging Local Plans until 2036.

These sites for housing have been submitted, scrutinised and consulted upon over a determined period, to appear in adopted Local Plans which are driven by the Local Planning Authorities.

It therefore flies in the face of localism, democracy and planned development that this proposal should be made, even if one can understand it in terms of it making huge profits for the landowner(s) and developer.

If this proposal makes it to the government’s short-list for new Garden Towns we all will then be able to have our say on whether they are appropriate.

From what has been released to date through the pages of this paper, it is clear that the location of the proposed new town could hardly be less appropriate: one wonders what the alternative sites were which were discarded as being less suitable than this one!

New Garden Towns should be sustainable and provide employment for their residents. There appears to have been no thought given to where the residents of the new settlement would work.

Nearby Fakenham and Dereham have plans in place to help them become more economically sufficient: progress which will only be put backwards by having a new town on their doorstep. The thought that an upgraded Mid Norfolk Railway would provide a route to work for the thousands of commuters is simply not realistic.

While some with jobs in Dereham (and Fakenham if the line is extended further) may use that service, it is highly unlikely that many would have jobs in Wymondham, whilst the time taken to reach Norwich if the line is connected would make it unviable. Can one imagine the travel chaos in Dereham if trains crossed the tracks under the A47 flyover every 20 minutes or so through rush hours?

Of course the majority of residents would in fact travel to and from work by car, for which suitable access would be required. If this town is to contain about the same number of residents as Thetford as reported, then a similar road network would be needed, consisting of duelled sections and bypasses of key settlements, all of which would destroy more countryside and massively escalate the costs for the taxpayer.

The main access road is the A1067, which is inadequate for an increase in volume of this size. The surrounding B and minor road network would not cope with the increase in traffic as new residents drove to Dereham, King’s Lynn or Swaffham.

The environmental damage of building on a huge green field site should not be underestimated, nor should the impact on the Wensum valley and numerous other environmental and heritage assets and their settings. At a time of uncertainty for our food supplies agricultural land should be maintained not concreted over, however “eco-friendly” are the houses which would replace productive fields.

Your editorial (July 21) is quite correct in suggesting that any new settlement should “cluster housing in a well planned area with good infrastructure”. It is absolutely clear that this proposal would lead to a new town being imposed on the people and landscape of Norfolk, which would then lose so much of which currently makes this an area of tranquillity, beauty and dark skies.

We can only hope that the government will reject the proposal at this stage, as the unsuitability of the location will be realised.

How disappointing that what could potentially rip the heart out of Norfolk should come just as we celebrate Norfolk Day.

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