3,000 Attleborough residents sign petition

A petition signed by 3,000 Attleborough residents demanding that new infrastructure is put in place before more housing is built in the town has been handed to Breckland Council.

The names were collected by the Attleborough Community Team (ACT), an independent community forum set up in March last year to help shape future development in Attleborough.

The petition's presentation, which took place yesterday, follows on from the launch of the group's campaign in September calling on Breckland to stop approving large scale housing applications before shortfalls in jobs and services are met.

It claims that about 700 homes have been built in the town over the last decade without major improvements being made.

Breckland Council has responded by making steps to involve the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment - an educational charity specialising in sustainable development - in the town planning process which will offer the community further opportunity to have their say on how they want Attleborough to grow.

It comes as a public consultation into the authority's Attleborough and Snetterton Heath Area Action Plan closes at midday tomorrow, which asks residents how the area can best accommodate 4,000 new homes by 2026.

Richard Middleton, chairman of ACT, who also presented a copy of the petition to Attleborough Town Council, claimed traffic is becoming more congested, school's are struggling for space and the doctors surgery is 'bulging at the seams'.

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He said: 'Comments overall from people have been general concerns about what's happening and continuing piecemeal development in the town. People think the town is being spoilt and infrastructure is inadequate and that's a theme.

'But at the same time the group is not out to oppose the development. We just want the issues surrounding it like infrastructure, services and employment to be addressed before these other homes come.'

William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said it was a concern that past development had not brought major changes to infrastructure but said these were approved under the authority's previous local plans now being updated.

But he added that improvements were a 'priority' although they would be built alongside new housing - not before - as they would be part-funded by developers.

'They want infrastructure built before development but I recognise that central government and local government do not have big stores of money any more. But it would be absolutely right that development does not happen without the infrastructure,' he said.

Breckland is now talking to Attleborough Town Council and Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman about approaching the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment

Mr Nunn said: 'They come in and actually do the town planning. They make note of what the district has done, they look at the existing town and infrastructure and they help the community plan how the town should look in 15 years time.

'I'm very keen they work with the community because I of course recognise there is a huge amount of signatures on the petition and we have to address that.'