It is virtually impossible to talk about the immediate future of Attleborough without mentioning the pending construction of thousands of new homes.

Plans for 4,000 properties will almost double the population over the next few years, transforming the market town in the process.

Outline planning permission for the project was first granted by Breckland Council in April 2020, having been agreed in principle a year before.

Eastern Daily Press: Ptarmigan's plans for Attleborough.Ptarmigan's plans for Attleborough. (Image: Ptarmigan Land)

A £34m community investment deal with developer Ptarmigan Land will partly pay for new primary schools in the town, as well as investment in the existing Attleborough Academy.

New green spaces, allotments, a park and improved sports and leisure facilities are also in the pipeline.

The development itself will be located on land to the south of the town centre, between London Road and Buckenham Road.

Work is set to begin as soon as next year after government agency Homes England agreed to buy the first phase of the scheme to accelerate the process.

Attleborough mayor Phil Leslie said the town's forthcoming expansion served as a golden chance to improve its fortunes.

"The new homes in Attleborough are obviously quite significant in relation to the existing number of houses we have in the town," said Mr Leslie.

Eastern Daily Press: Attleborough mayor Phil LeslieAttleborough mayor Phil Leslie (Image: Victoria Pertusa)

"It can be seen as a challenge, but also as an opportunity.

"We are working with key stakeholders to ensure the community feels we have enhanced things going forward, and that the development includes facilities that give us better lifestyles."

While Attleborough Town Council cannot have much influence over the new homes, its neighbourhood plan committee has long been exploring ways to boost local prospects.

As a member, Mr Leslie is well placed to judge ways in which the community can move forward.

"What we can influence are community aspects, how the town operates," he added.

"There needs to be better green spaces, more healthcare provision and better sports facilities.

Eastern Daily Press: Aerial view of Attleborough, where 4,000 homes are set to be built in the coming yearsAerial view of Attleborough, where 4,000 homes are set to be built in the coming years (Image: Copypright Mike Page, All Rights Reserved Before any use is made of this picture, including dispaly, publication, broadcast,...)

"We have got a pipeline of projects, including a new skate park. We are focused on a new green spaces project which includes Decoy Common, London Road and the Recreation Ground."

Attleborough had already been identified as a suitable location for substantial housing and employment growth in Breckland Council's Local Plan.

Having the necessary infrastructure to cope with a huge influx of residents is evidently a priority, and there are plans to ease the burden on the existing road network.

Ptarmigan Land will pay for a new link road connecting London Road and Buckenham Road, considered to be crucial in order to avoid congestion.

The developer will also fund a new footbridge over the railway at Leys Lane.

Both are expected to be in place by the time the 1,200th home has been built - the end of the first of six phases.

As an experienced town planner, Ed Tyrer is all too familiar with the trials and tribulations of delivering large-scale development.

Mr Tyrer, who chairs ATC's neighbourhood plan committee, is certain the next few years will be far from easy.

"From experience I know projects of this size can be painful," he admitted.

"Attleborough is a place that embraces the concept of growth, but it comes with a whole host of challenges.

"What we are dealing with these days is sustainability, climate change, the aspiration to become carbon-zero, and of course being economically viable.

"All those challenges are complex, but they are not insurmountable. Ultimately we want to be an example to the region and to the country."

Eastern Daily Press: Aerial view of Attleborough, where 4,000 homes are set to be built in the coming yearsAerial view of Attleborough, where 4,000 homes are set to be built in the coming years (Image: Archant)

But Mr Tyrer added that the key for Attleborough was for all interested parties to work together.

He said: "It is difficult. It takes time and effort, but we have to recognise that we can only achieve the result everyone wants by working together.

"From a town council perspective, we want to talk with Homes England, Breckland Council and other key stakeholders.

"The hard questions have to be discussed and addressed if we want to do things differently, if we want a sustainable future, if we our children to have a fantastic place to live.

"This is going to take compromise, will and leadership, which are things that don't always come naturally."