Hundreds of new homes set for west Norfolk, despite opposition
- Credit: IAN BURT
Proposals for hundreds of new homes in west Norfolk will be decided in the next two days.
Borough councillors will sit down today and tomorrow to discuss nearly 40 planning applications.
If they are approved, about 400 homes could soon be built to meet a need for extra housing in the region, especially affordable homes.
However, many parish councils and residents are worried these developments on the edge of towns and villages will undermine the rural character of the area.
The huge rise in proposals being lodged with West Norfolk Council is down to the authority's inability to prove that adequate land is available for housing.
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This came to light after a High Court judgement last year found the borough council had failed to meet government standards in allocating land for homes. Many more proposals are expected to be submitted until the council can again prove it has the required housing supply.
Most of the proposals are set for approval by borough councillors, despite many being opposed by their local parish councils and residents.
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The plans for up to 400 new homes across dozens of sites are recommended for approval because the council needs to show it has a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites, which is a government requirement.
It follows the council's unsuccessful challenge in the High Court last year against a housing development, which led to the revelation the authority did not have the five-year housing supply it believed it did.
Accordingly, proposals, including for sites outside the development boundaries, must be viewed in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, and must be approved unless they cause 'significant and demonstrable harm' to the area.
One application set to get the green light is Bennett Homes' proposal for 40 homes on land off Mill Road in Watlington. The parish council and dozens of residents are objecting to the plans.
The news comes as the CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, called on the government to crackdown on councils that failed to deliver local plans and make it a statutory duty.
CLA housing adviser Matthew O'Connell said: 'Too many rural communities and businesses are being stifled because their local planning authority will not put in place the up-to-date local plan that government requires of them.'
Meanwhile, a proposal has been lodged with the council to build up to 285 homes on land north-east of Bridle Lane in Wimbotsham, near Downham Market. The test case for the council to prove it again has the five-year supply will be a public inquiry in Heacham in May.