How villagers are ensuring they benefit from hundreds of new homes
- Credit: Persimmon Homes Anglia
People in a village on the edge of Norwich preparing for rapid expansion are urging communities to work with developers and embrace change.
Persimmon Homes Anglia will start building 291 homes on greenfield land off Dereham Road at Easton, close to Norfolk Showground, in June after South Norfolk Council approved plans.
Festival Park is the first phase of a 780-home development of two-five bedroom homes around the village and could take up to 10 years to build, according to Easton Parish Council.
Council chairman Peter Milliken, 56, said the number of houses in the village would increase by nearly 150pc from its current 620 when the whole development is complete.
Despite objections from villagers to the plans after they were first proposed in 2014, he said the council and Persimmon have worked together and compromised for the benefit of the village.
He said: "Ideally we would have been happy to see 100 new houses coming to the village but that is not what happened.
"We have to look forward and cannot look back. We have to make the best of it. We are now in constant dialogue with the developer and that is what I would recommend to any parish council going through this.
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"Easton is a great place and as a community we have got to find a way to embrace change and make it work."
The former teacher said the council helped to amend plans to introduce garages with enough space for cars to fit in and parking spaces in front of homes rather than communal parking areas behind houses.
Following discussions, Persimmon will also plant a 10-metre buffer of trees and hedges between the new homes to the east of the village and houses next to the site.
It also removed plans for shared roads within the development - where there is no raised pavement for cyclists, pedestrians or wheelchair users.
"I'm a wheelchair user and I find shared roads appalling. They are so dangerous," he said.
But he said there were concerns for pressure on NHS services and new patients and believed a new high school would need to be built.
Plans are in to expand the nearest high school - Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey - however Mr Milliken said the school was already oversubscribed.
He also said there was a major concern over safety for pedestrians, and cyclists crossing the A47 from Easton to Costessey.
"It is very dangerous to walk that way. I'm surprised we have not seen more serious injuries or deaths."
Persimmon confirmed as part of its development it would establish significant improvements to cycle and pedestrian links from Easton to Longwater.
A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: "‘Prior to the development coming forward, the developer is required to deliver walking and cycling improvements at the Longwater Interchange which include signalised crossings on the slip roads and a widened pedestrian path across the bridge."
Costessey Town Council chairman Dan Burrill said: "Over the past 15 years in Costessey we have had several hundred new homes built. The Longwater interchange is a significant cause for concern. Will the improvements promised by Persimmon be sufficient? I am not certain.
"More houses would put significant pressure on the Longwater roundabout and NHS services including Roundwell Medical Centre."
Ben Moye, 21, from College Heights in Easton, who sits on the parish council and is studying a masters in town planning said: "It is naive and unrealistic to completely oppose development because we need new homes. We are trying to make sure it is positive for Easton residents."
Persimmon will provide land so St Peter's Primary School in the village can expand as well as give land for a shop and new village hall.
The village hall will be built to the south of Easton next to new green spaces and play areas off Bawburgh Road, in a separate phase, according to the Mr Moye.
He added hundreds of homes surrounding Easton will be proposed by Persimmon across in four separate phases.
John Eldridge, director in charge at Persimmon Homes Anglia, said: "We are excited to become part of a warm and friendly community and pleased that the development will contribute to village facilities.
“Our exciting project will not only provide much needed new homes it will also breathe economic life into the area. A development of this scale has the potential to create more than 2000 jobs."