Automatic planning permission for brownfield sites - but what does it mean for our region?

The former Pinebanks Sports and Social Club, Thorpe St Andrew. Photo: Steve Adams

The former Pinebanks Sports and Social Club, Thorpe St Andrew. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Developers are to be granted automatic planning permission to build on brownfield sites. But what will it mean for local democracy? Sabah Meddings reports

But critics of the chancellor's policy, to grant automatic planning permission to developers who want to build on brownfield sites, fear it will leave local council planning processes toothless and community campaign groups without a voice.

In addition, others fear the provision of affordable housing would suffer as brownfield sites are more expensive to develop.

Council chiefs say rural areas across Norfolk have limited brownfield sites, but some areas have already been identified for development.

Opposing the idea is Philip Clay, 45, of Hillcrest Road, Thorpe St Andrew, who has campaigned against plans to build more than 200 homes in Broadland.

'As people living here we should get a say in what is built,' he said.

'We are going to end up with too much traffic on roads that aren't suitable. No one will be safe. It knocks council planning on its head. It will become a farce.'

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But existing brownfield developments have made way for regeneration projects across the county. In King's Lynn, the Nar Ouse project is a 120-acre site and one of the largest brownfield projects in the east of England.

When complete, the development will offer new homes, commercial facilities, community facilities and a business innovation centre.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council leader Nick Daubney welcomed Mr Osborne's initiative, but said it was difficult to know what impact it would have locally until more details were revealed.

In Great Yarmouth, areas around the North Quay, Cobholm and Southtown river fronts had been identified, with a view to building a waterfront development of housing and shops.

However, Jon Clemo, from Community Action Norfolk, warned brownfield sites were often more expensive to develop, and it was unknown how much of the housing would be affordable.

'Developers will be looking to recoup their costs,' he said.

'There will be a limited effect of brownfield sits in rural areas but anything that brings affordable housing is a good thing.'

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