Blueprint for 30,000 new Norfolk homes

Draft proposals will be unveiled today showing where more than 30,000 homes and villages could be built and plotting which market towns in the heart of Norfolk are ripe for expansion.

Draft proposals will be unveiled today showing where more than 30,000 homes and villages could be built and plotting which market towns in the heart of Norfolk are ripe for expansion.

Four councils are working on a joint planning blueprint for a swathe of central Norfolk - stretching from Aylsham to Diss, Wymondham to Acle - which will also show where new schools, roads, shops and GP surgeries will be needed in future.

Most of the new housing will be built near Norwich, with the potential for developments or new 'villages' being identified close to Sprowston and Rackheath in the north, Thorpe St Andrew to the East and Poringland in the South.

One suggestion is to expand or build a new village close to the A140 near Newton Flotman, while Wymondham is also seen as ripe for expansion because of its good transport links to the city.

The blueprint is the work of Norfolk County Council and Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk councils and comes despite their recent political wrangling over whether the city should be independent from the county to run its own public services.

Concrete decisions about where new villages will be built have yet to be taken.

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But the issues emerging from the first draft of the blueprint will be debated by experts in a series of workshops beginning tomorrow - covering the economy, green issues such as climate change and flooding, transport needs community life, culture and leisure, and homes and housing.

The workshops will run until July 6 and will be followed later in the year by a full public consultation.

But with 18,000 new homes identified for the Norwich area focused on greenfield sites, the document is sure to spark concerns that the growth will destroy much of the rural character of Norfolk beyond the city.

The strategy will also consider how to tackle the lack of affordable homes, and whether more jobs and businesses should be based in villages to cut the need to travel.

And it wants to look at how to build on the strengths of existing industries such as finance, media, science and retail and consider how firms can expand home working.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said the four partners had a responsibility to use their local knowledge to accommodate growth in the places where it was most appropriate.

“If we don't take control of this ourselves, we'll just have development imposed on us from London,” he said.

“That couldn't be right. But rest assured, within these development pressures we are determined to conserve the special character of our market towns and villages with high- quality schemes that put our environment first.”

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said the idea was to anticipate the pressures faced by growth.

“We all want good jobs, decent places to live and to keep the things about our city and rural areas that make this such a special place to live,” he said.

“As we attract more investment, more jobs and build more homes, it just makes sense to work as closely as possible with all concerned to get the future right”

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said the partnership faced “considerable challenges”, and it was vital to glean the views of Norfolk people.

“I am absolutely convinced that the partnership approach offers the best opportunity for ensuring that this happens,” he said. “These are very early days in the process, but it's important that there are plenty of opportunities for people to be involved in the general debate in the coming weeks and months so that we take account of what we hear and achieve the most positive outcome possible.”

Simon Woodbridge, leader of Broadland District Council and chairman of the partnership, said: “This is providing an excellent opportunity to work in partnership for the greater good of all our residents, and to properly plan for a brighter and better future.”

The strategy has considered 10 sectors on the outskirts of Norwich. Below are the initial conclusions:

North East sector within the northern bypass (close to Sprowston)

t Closest to the city

t Good access to work areas in the city, Thorpe St Andrew business park

t Will be served by northern bypass

t New school needed - No capacity at Sprowston High School

Verdict: Very good location for a large scale urban extension

North East sector (beyond the northern bypass, near Rackheath)

t Not well related to the city centre

t Good links to Thorpe business park

t Potentially served by Salhouse railway station

t No secondary school nearby. Would need minimum of 7,000 homes for new school to be viable

Verdict: May be worth further investigation

East sector (beyond the bypass)

t Stand alone new settlement

t Good access to Thorpe business park and Rackheath employment area

t Not well served by existing services. Sainsbury store at Pound Lane nearest shopping centre

t New school needed - no capacity at Thorpe St Andrew high school, would need minimum of 7,000 homes

Verdict: Worthy of further investigation if public transport constraints around Yarmouth Road can be overcome

South East sector (near Poringland)

t Poorly related to the city centre

t Reasonably well related to A47

t Framlingham Early High School has potential to expand

Verdict: Does seem a good candidate for strategic growth

South sector (A11 to A140, outside A47)

t Existing Tesco at Harford would serve location close to A140

t Excellent public transport infrastructure

t There is no capacity at Hethersett High School of Eaton City of Norwich. Significant capacity at Hewett, but not well related to potential development

Verdict: Not well related to employment locations and may not be able to provide new secondary school

South West sector (A11-B1108)

t Easy access to Norwich Research Park

t the fastest park and ride journey times

t no major services in the area

Verdict: Capacity to accommodate a large new/expanded settlement - worthy of investigation

West sector (river Yare to Wensum)

t Road system and sensitive river valleys constrain development

t Easy access to Longwater and relatively close to Research Park

t Relatively close to Sainsbury superstore

t No capacity in Costessey High School

Verdict: Even relatively small scale development could be difficult for high school provision

North West sector (A1067 to northern bypass)

t Not well served by large retail facilities

t No significant public transport infrastructure outside city centre

t No capacity at Taverham High School, some capacity at Hellesdon High School

Verdict: Not well related to employment and public transport limited

North sector (North of the airport)

t Not well related to existing secondary schools

t Poorly related to retail and employment areas

Verdict: Does not seem a good candidate for strategic growth


t Well related to Norwich but with a distinct identity

t Rail service to Norwich and Cambridge

t closest potential growth location to Lotus Hethel Engineering Centre

t Well related to existing retail services - Waitrose and town centre

t No capacity at Wymondham High School or Wymondham College.

Verdict: Suitable location for further investigation and strategic growth

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