Deal struck over plans for 800 new homes on edge of Norwich
- Credit: Terra Strategic
A vital step towards 800 new homes in a Norwich suburb has been taken, sparking concerns over how the area's roads, health facilities and schools will cope.
Terra Strategic, a Solihull-headquartered specialist land company, has agreed terms with the landowner of a large set of fields, just east of the A47 and south of Old Costessey, to promote the 98-acre plot for new development.
Sharon Blundell, a Liberal Democrat district councillor for Old Costessey, said that while she was fully aware the space could be built on in the future, it was nonetheless “a surprise to learn it has come forward so soon”.
“At this present time, as there are no formal plans, my main concerns would be more strain on the doctors’ surgeries and dentistry which is already near impossible to get appointments, can the local educational facilities' capacity take on further students, as well the surrounding road network”, she said.
“Affordable housing is a must, as are more recreational areas," she added.
“It would be nice if the developer could think of other recreational sports for the residents of Costessey instead of football and maybe provide [a] rugby pitch, tennis courts, BMX pump track and maybe allotments.
“It would be great to work alongside the developer for the benefit of Costessey residents.”
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Costessey Town Council chairman Dan Burrill said: “Costessey has already seen substantial development over the past 15 years, with Queen's Hills, Lodge Farm, The Hampdens, as well as other, smaller developments.”
Mr Burrill, who was giving his own view rather than speaking on behalf of the town council, warned that the homes could bring challenges to local infrastructure, if the right investment is not put in place.
“An extra 800 houses would require a significant investment on the part of developers and other agencies such as Norfolk County Council and the local Clinical Commissioning Group in order to ensure that the capacity is available in local schools, doctors' surgeries, dentists, and transportation networks," he said.
“I also note that there is no mention of affordable housing in this new development."
Responding to these points, Terra Strategic’s land and development director Jordan Langdon-Bates gave an assurance that the scheme would “deliver much-needed policy compliant affordable housing”.
He said the development would also deliver the services and spaces the local area needs.
“As part of the development we are looking to deliver both primary and sixth form education provision on site which will help with the wider area's capacity issues, alongside further local amenities.
He added: “The site will be brought forward in accordance with the requirements of the Local Plan, which is due to commence its examination next month.
“We welcome the views of Costessey parish and its residents, and will in due course engage further to ensure any development delivers positively for the local community.”
Anthony Breach, an analyst at the Centre for Cities think tank, said the homes would bring economic benefits.
“Norwich’s urban area has about 126,000 dwellings, so 800 more homes would increase the total number of homes by less than 1pc," said Mr Breach.
“But Norwich needs to keep allowing new homes like this to both keep housing costs under control for those already living in the city when the cost of living is being so squeezed, and to ensure there are more customers for local businesses in Norwich itself,” he added.
Terra Strategic’s managing director James O’Shea said the development would be “well located”, “highly sustainable” and “deliver numerous local benefits”.
The plot had already been identified in the draft Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) as a “contingency site for an urban extension including housing, open and play space, a local centre and education facilities”, which would be “in the region of 800 homes”.
Terra Strategic intends to submit a planning application for the site to South Norfolk District Council, if the GNLP is approved as drafted by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Levelling Up Michael Gove.
The company would then market the property for sale to a developer if permission in principle is granted by South Norfolk Council.
Mr O’Shea said the scheme could help to meet Greater Norwich’s annual housing targets at a time when there is a considerable shortfall in the number of new homes being built across the UK.
He said: “Much-needed education facilities can also be delivered here, along with workspace and recreation features for local people, while simultaneously enhancing connections with the nearby established neighbourhoods.”
The company claims that new tree planting, along with tree and hedgerow retention would mean a biodiversity net gain of at least 10pc.
The site borders two recent developments; Hampden View and Lodge Farm, with which the potential 800-home addition would be linked.
Major housing projects planned for Norwich
Thousands of new homes are being earmarked both in Norwich city centre and its surrounding towns and villages.
National planning think tank, Centre for Cities, believes more homes can address affordability and housing inequality issues, but it does ask questions over the existing services and infrastructure available.
Among the major projects lined up for the city are the East Norwich masterplan and the Pinebanks development in Thorpe St Andrew.
The former includes four key sites - Carrow Works, the Deal Ground and May Gurney sites in Trowse and the Utilities site between Thorpe Hamlet and Whitlingham.
This would see 3,500 homes built in addition to the 725 planned for four sites across Thorpe St Andrew.
Controversial plans to redevelop Anglia Square could see around 1,100 homes built from late 2022 as developer Weston Homes unveiled fresh proposals after being met with an initial rejection from the secretary of state.