‘Green wedges’ around Norwich proposed to protect the countryside
- Credit: Mike Page
Campaigners looking to protect Norfolk's countryside have unveiled their proposals for a 'green belt' around Norwich - with a series of 'green wedges' radiating out from the city where development should not happen.
Government Green Belt policy was established in 1955 primarily to stop urban sprawl. It does not forbid development, but aims to preserve the character of historic towns and assist urban regeneration.
But, unlike many major cities, Norwich does not have a green belt. The nearest designated one to the city is in Cambridge and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says that needs to change.
As part of the debate over the Greater Norwich Local Plan - which will identify where thousands of new homes should be built in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk by 2036, the Norfolk branch of the CPRE has put forward its vision for a green belt.
The CPRE wants to see 'green wedges' radiating out from the city into the countryside, following existing green corridors, such as river valleys, railway lines and major footpaths and cycleways.
They say that would still enable development which is needed for homes and jobs, but would protect the city's character for generations to come.
Chris Dady, CPRE Norfolk chairman, said: 'As our local authorities begin the process of reviewing the adopted local plans for Norwich and its surrounding districts, with the likelihood that they will have to accommodate even more growth beyond 2026, it is now more urgent than ever that Norwich protects its green corridors for people and wildlife for the future.
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'A green belt, in the form of green wedges, is the way to achieve this long-term protection whilst not standing in the way of future development, and giving the opportunity for more links between houses and the countryside.'
The question of whether people support the establishment of a green belt around Norwich has been posed as part of the consultation over the Greater Norwich Local Plan.
That consultation, which includes specific sites which have been put forward for development, has been extended to 5pm on Thursday, March 22.
But council bosses have said they are not convinced that the establishment of a green belt for Norwich is justifiable.
In the consultation document over the Greater Norwich Local Plan they said national planning policy stated that new green belts should only be established in 'exceptional circumstances', such as when planning for new settlements or major urban expansions.
And they said: 'We do not believe there is evidence to meet the exceptional circumstances required to justify the establishment of a green belt for Norwich.'
On the proposal for wedges, they said: 'Since current local plan policies have been broadly successful in protecting these areas, it would be very difficult to meet the government's requirements.'
But, through the consultation, people are asked if they support the establishment of a green belt and, if so, to state what the relevant 'exceptional circumstances' are.
People can comment at http://www.gnlp.org.uk/have-your-say/