Harleston town plan report calls for business forum formation and community wood project

Plans to create a new community woodland and formulate a town business forum have moved forward with the adoption of a town plan in Harleston.

Members of Redenhall with Harleston Town Council approved a 'planning for actions' document at a meeting on Wednesday night, which follows almost two years of consultation by the independent Have Your Say group.

More than 500 people responded to a questionnaire, which has helped shape the plan that aims to improve the quality of life in the south Norfolk market town.

Ian Carstairs, chairman of the town's actions management group, said the top priority in their proposals was to support the establishment of a business forum or chamber of trade.

'A substantial number of issues and ideas raised about shops, business, opening hours, jobs and careers can only readily be considered through the businesses themselves. To do this, a forum is vital, but will only exist and be effective if the businesses want it,' he said.

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The actions management group, which is made up of town councillors and community figures, will also move ahead with plans for a community orchard or woodland project in Harleston, with proposals to use a three acre field off Rushall Road.

The town plan will also investigate the establishment of a business park to create more hi-tech jobs in the town, which is set to get around 300 new homes over the next 15 years.

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Mr Carstairs said that there were also plans to undertake a roads and traffic survey to gain data on any traffic and highway problems and to establish the level of speeding in the town.

A 'Swift Action' wildlife project to incorporate bird-friendly features on buildings to help boost local swift, sparrow, butterfly, moth and bee populations will also be started.

Mr Carstairs added that a public meeting would be arranged for residents to find out more about the town plan priorities, which is scheduled to take place at the Harleston Leisure Centre from 7pm on Wednesday, March 21.

'The recommendations are based on the premise that the community should only take on activities, which can be reasonably coped with and that the community, where possible must lead the action, albeit supported as appropriate by the town council. These priority activities have been chosen not solely on importance, but also suitability to provide a platform for wider community benefit,' he added.

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