Fears over plans for 5,000 new homes

Location, jobs and density of homes topped the concerns of people who turned out to see plans for 5,000 new homes to the north of Thetford.

The aim would be to deliver thousands of new homes and jobs plus schools, health services and a transport system linking the development with the town centre.

Proposals for the Sustainable Urban Extension on land between the northern boundary of Thetford and the A11, owned by the Kilverstone and Crown Estates, were first seen at a public consultation earlier this year. Since then, a number of changes have been made – not least a reduction in the number of houses from 6,000 to 5,000.

It was also decided to remove a junction close to Heathlands Drive, frame a scheduled ancient monument with housing facing the site, move an extension of the former Rosemary Musker school to a flat area to create playing fields and keep Joe Blunt's Lane for public access.

Property company Pigeon, which is promoting the scheme on behalf of the landowners, said around 80pc of the 100-plus people at the consultation meeting were in favour of the scheme.

But some concerns were raised, particularly from Croxton residents, whose parish boundary the development will cross.

Croxton parish councillor Lorna Sayers said: 'I can't see it benefiting Thetford town because it's too far away. Where are the people going to work? What about the jobs?

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'I'm so sceptical because I've been around since these ideas started and every one has fallen through. It's fantastic, but I just don't believe it in this current climate.'

Simon Meldrum, 51, an Age Concern worker of Station Road, Thetford, said he also believed the location was wrong.

'You're seeing a desert in the centre of Thetford and everything is being built on the outskirts,' he said. 'It'll be a dormitory town because people will go out to Norwich and Bury to work because they've got their cars.'

Included in the plans, alongside the 5,000 homes, would be 22ha of employment, 5.2ha of allotments, 19ha of playing fields, three primary schools, a doctors' surgery and dentist, shops, a place of worship and a community hall.

All existing woodland would be retained and improvements made to A11 junctions leading into Thetford.

Philip Waring, 57, a carpenter of Ford Street, Thetford, said: 'If they're going to put 5,000 houses with two or three people per house it's increasing the population of the town by quite a lot. It seems Thetford is getting a disproportionate amount of houses.'

The comments will help to shape a planning application to be submitted next spring. If permission is granted, work could begin in 2012.