Plans for 2,000 homes near Norwich unveiled
Plans have been unveiled for up to 2,000 new homes to be built on the outskirts of Norwich, just a stone's throw away from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Just over 120 acres of agricultural land, at Newfound Farm in Cringleford, which belongs the John Innes Foundation, has been earmarked for the homes, along with a new primary school, shops, play areas and sports facilities.
But Cringleford Parish Council is concerned about the number of homes proposed in the plan – and says it would 'vigorously oppose' a figure as high as 2,000. Norwich-based Building Partnerships, the same company promoting the Rackheath Eco-Town, is working with the John Innes Foundation and Barratt Homes to secure planning permission for the development, which could become home to some 5,000 people.
Developers say if planning permission is secured then the money made from the sale of the land will go to the John Innes Foundation, a charity which supports research at the John Innes Centre.
Kevin Cooper, director and development co-ordinator at Queens Road-based Building
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Partnerships, said: 'One of the reasons we think this is sustainable is because it is so close to existing employment sites. You have got the hospital, Norwich Research Park and the University of East Anglia very close to the site.
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'The land is not cropped at the moment and it doesn't appear to be top quality agricultural land, while there's already development nearby at Round House Park.
'We are very interested in low carbon living and it only takes 20 minutes to walk from the centre of the site to the research park, so we think this could be an attractive place to live for workers at places like that, the hospital and the university.'
Entrance to the development by road would be from Colney Lane and Mr Cooper said it was vital the infrastructure was right - with a school, shops and facilities going hand in hand with the building of homes.
'Engaging with the community is very important to us. We have had meetings with Cringleford Parish Council which have been very constructive and we have also spoken to the Yare Valley Society.
'We will be holding exhibitions to talk to local people and to explain what we are hoping to do.'
Anne Barnes, clerk of Cringleford Parish Council, said: 'The parish council has had a meeting with Building Partnerships at which a preliminary sketch layout was tabled, but until the joint core strategy has been determined the parish council cannot considered the scheme shown in any depth.
'However, the council did indicate that there were a number of significant changes which needed to be made to the proposed layout in such matters as access, road widths and car parking to incorporate the lessons learnt from Round House Park.
'Most importantly, a reduction in the number of houses proposed from the 2,000 shown to around 1,200, is, in the view of the council, essential.
'The council will vigorously oppose a figure of 2,000 new dwellings. We accept some development must happen in Cringleford, but feel 1,200 homes is the maximum.'
Mr Cooper acknowledged the number of homes was above the 1,200 earmarked for Costessey in the joint core strategy - a blueprint for development in and around Norwich between now and 2026.
That strategy is currently the focus of a three-week investigation by an inspector who will decide whether it is sound enough for the Greater Norwich Development Partnership - made up of Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council, South Norfolk Council, Broadland District Council and the Broads Authority - to adopt.
But Mr Cooper said if 2,000 homes were built that would happen beyond the 2026 time span in the strategy. He added the strategy also allows for a further 1,800 homes at other sites around South Norfolk and that the Cringleford site, with its links to employment at the hospital, Norwich Research Park and the University of East Anglia, was one of the most sustainable sites around the city,
The developers have been speaking to South Norfolk Council about the proposals and hope to submit a planning application next year.
Mr Cooper said, if permission is granted, work would probably not start until 2013 at the earliest.
He said: 'We are looking at the long term here. It's not just two to three years, but a 20-year plan. We all know there is a need for housing and this is one of the most sustainable sites there is.'
Frank Oldfield, chairman of the John Innes Foundation, said: 'The funds raised from the proposed development would make a valuable contribution towards achieving our charitable objectives of further research into and the enhancement of our understanding of agriculture, horticulture and plant sciences.'
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