50,000 home plans go ahead but issues remain
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Blueprints for where 50,000 homes could be built in Norwich and beyond are progressing on to the final stage - but concerns remain that could throw a spanner in the works.
The Greater Norwich Local Plan covers housebuilding in the city, Broadland and South Norfolk over the next two decades.
On Thursday afternoon representatives from across the three councils met to discuss the plans ahead of sending them to the secretary of state for housing.
Norwich City Council Officer Graham Nelson said two issues had been raised that could halt the plans.
“We need a statement of support from Natural England,” Mr Nelson said.
“We are now in a position where we have seen a copy of a statement of common ground, we believe is capable of being signed off both by Natural England and the councils.”
Natural England raised concerns about how adverse effects on protected habitat sites around Norwich would be avoided and without their support, the plans would be stopped.
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“I can’t say it has been signed off but it is certainly the intention,” Mr Nelson added.
However, Mr Nelson said the second issue – the lack of sites for Gypsies and Travellers – could cause a delay.
“We have taken advice on the severity of this issue and the advice is that this doesn’t immediately render your plan unsound, unable to proceed.
“But as things stand, we would expect to have a tough ride at the examination because of the absence of sites to meet the needs of Gypsies and Travellers.
“The recommendation is that we don’t wait, we commit to undertake work to find those sites and how we can address those needs now.
“If we don’t address that now and address that with some urgency, I'm afraid it is likely that we will hit some cause for delay.”
Councillors from across the districts said there were "no deal breakers" in the plans but all accepted there needed to be movement on finding sites for Gypsies and Travellers.
The meeting follows a recent consultation on the plans, which saw 1,316 people respond, with the overwhelming majority objecting to the plans.
In total 1,053 people object, while 263 wrote in support.
Mr Nelson said this was expected and the number of objections had reduced as the plans had gone through various consultations.
He added officers considered carrying out further consultation on transport plans, particularly around the Western Link, but said emerging changes to planning law by the government meant they needed to press ahead.
Councillors unanimously agreed to submit the plans for examination subject to Natural England agreements.
What's in the GNLP?
The Greater Norwich Local Plan aims to focus on new building in and around the city and along the A11 - what is dubbed the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor.
In total, the plan considers where more than 49,000 homes could be built in Greater Norwich by 2038.
That could pave the way for almost 12,000 new homes to be built in Norwich itself and hundreds more in places such as Hellesdon, Drayton, Taverham and Thorpe St Andrew.
With a focus on employment at places such as Norwich Research Park, there would also be more than a thousand new homes in Hethersett and Cringleford, with 2,615 in Wymondham.
There would also be 13,505 to the north east of Norwich.
A contingency for 800 homes in Costessey is also included, for if expected housing is not built elsewhere.
But there would also be more than 4,000 homes in clusters around South Norfolk and Broadland.