High Court review into plan for thousands of homes in and around Norwich
A blueprint for where thousands of homes will be built in and around Norwich did not properly consider alternative locations for the houses, it was alleged in the High Court yesterday.
A judicial review into the blueprint known as the Joint Core Strategy also saw a judge question why the strategy was presented as being so dependent upon growth to the north east of Norwich and on the Northern Distributor Road (NDR).
The review, being held at the Administrative Court of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, has been sought by campaigner Stephen Heard, from SNUB (Stop Norwich Urbanisation).
Drawn up by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP), the JCS details where 37,000 new homes will be built and 27,000 jobs created by 2026. The authorities which form the GNDP – Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council, South Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council and the Broads Authority – say it is a vital strategy to plan for the growing population in the Norwich area.
But critics, including SNUB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Green county councillors, say it will concrete over swathes of countryside and villages which currently have their own identities, such as Rackheath, will become suburbs of Norwich.
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Barrister Richard Harwood, on behalf of Mr Heard, said the grounds for the challenge were that the strategy could not adequately demonstrate why 'reasonable' alternatives to the growth in the north east had not been considered and that the NDR or alternatives to it had not had environmental assessments.
William Upton, on behalf of Broadland District Council – the authority the review has been brought against – argued the NDR had been part of previous policies, including the Norwich Area Transport Strategy and Local Transport Plan and had been environmentally assessed through those.
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And he said: 'This road is a fundamental part of the infrastructure to deliver the growth.
'There is no reasonable alternative to fundamental infrastructure.'
But with a planning inspector refinement to the strategy meaning it now states up to 1,400 homes could happen to the north east of Norwich without the NDR, Mr Justice Ouseley queried why that possibility had not been assessed.
Mr Upton said it was not 'a reasonable alternative' and said if the NDR did not get funding then the council would 'have to go away and think again''.
Mr Justice Ouseley said it seemed 'odd' that the argument seemed to be that the growth strategy justified the road, which in turn justified the growth strategy.
The hearing is set to conclude today, although Mr Justice Owsley has not indicated whether he will deliver a decision straight away.