Future looks green for former base

A plan to build an eco town on the site of the former RAF Coltishall base received a further boost yesterday when senior councillors in north Norfolk gave the idea backing in principle.

A plan to build an eco town on the site of the former RAF Coltishall base received a further boost yesterday when senior councillors in north Norfolk gave the idea backing in principle.

Members of North Norfolk District Council's cabinet put their weight behind the wider concept of a green community at the site, although they were clear that this did not mean they were supporting the specific £9bn plans put forward by developer Richard Davies last month.

Mr Davies's plans include creating 10,000 homes, 2,000 jobs, a new broad, education and leisure facilities and a museum to highlight the station's illustrious history.

Cabinet members stressed the importance of investment in the infrastructure to support such a major development, while making it clear any project would have to be in addition to, rather than instead of, other planned homebuilding in the district.

Transport was a particular concern - the location of the former airbase away from major transport links has always been considered a serious weakness.

The council's deputy leader and portfolio holder for development control, Virginia Gay, said: “I support the idea of an eco town, but I don't think at this stage we can support any particular scheme. But I do find the plans put forward tempting and it is an imaginative proposal.

Most Read

“It is the idea of eco development that is perhaps going to be most attractive to members of this council.”

Clive Stockton, portfolio holder for planning policy and economic development, said it was “perfectly reasonable” to believe an eco town could be built at the old RAF base. The site had a number of clear advantages, said Mr Stockton, but the issue of accessibility was the one major disadvantage. “There are almost single track roads in every direction,” he added.

“I would not want to see what could be a very good development ruined because the correct funding has not been secured.

“If this is done it must be done on the basis of a very comprehensive plan. It must be considered completely in the round.

“But it is a wonderful idea.”

Peter Moore said it was important to note that whatever development took place at the former base, it should be in addition to the 8,000 homes currently being suggested by the new local development framework between 2001 and 2021.

“We do not want to take away from the rest of the district,” said Mr Moore.

And Sue Arnold said: “Before the first brick is laid or the first footing put in, every effort must be made to make sure the investment is put in.”

Yesterday's meeting also discussed the potential for a train or tram link to serve any new community, possibly using part of the narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway tourist service between Hoveton and Aylsham, which was once connected to main line services and which passes the south-west corner of the former base.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter