Info-graphic: Green light for Norfolk homes blueprint

Andrew Proctor, leader of Broadland District Council.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Broadland District Council. - Credit: Submitted

The green light has been given to the final piece of a blueprint for where 37,000 homes should be built and 27,000 jobs created in and around Norwich over the next two decades.

The green light has been given to the final piece of a blueprint for where 37,000 homes should be built and 27,000 jobs created in and around Norwich over the next two decades.

After years of uncertainty, the whole of a document which outlines where the development should happen in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk, has been found to be sound - so long as some modifications are made.

While council leaders have hailed the decision by a planning inspector, campaigners who have long argued that the plans are flawed and will lead to urban sprawl said they would continue to fight to demonstrate the 'folly' of the plans.

The document, known as the Joint Core Strategy has been in the making since 2007, and is meant to form a strategy for planning where new homes and jobs should go.

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It was put together by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) - made up of Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council, working together with Norfolk County Council.

While the bulk of the document has been adopted, a High Court judge had ordered that the sections relating to the parts of Broadland which fall within what is known as the Norwich Policy Area needed to be reconsidered. He took that action last year following a legal challenge by Stephen Heard, a Salhouse campaigner from the group Stop Norwich Urbanisation.

The document was resubmitted, with proposals for 9,000 homes and 25 hectares of employment land in the Broadland part of the Norwich Policy Area, still focused in the same areas as before - 7,000 of the homes in the Old Catton, Sprowston, Rackheath, Thorpe St Andrew area and 2,000 'floating' in other parts of Broadland.

And, following public inquiries in the summer, planning inspector David Vickery has confirmed the document is sound, so long as a number of modifications are made.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council and chairman of the GNDP, said: 'The news that our joint core strategy has been proved to be sound is very welcome and testament to the hard work of the officers involved.

'It means we can deliver the development and infrastructure needed in Greater Norwich in a strategic and sustainable way, resulting in the provision of the homes and jobs we need to meet our economic aspirations and provide the city and county with a prosperous future.'

Andrew Proctor, leader of Broadland District Council, said: 'Our main aim has always been to have a solid framework on which to base planning decisions to ensure future growth in Broadland is properly managed.

'We were convinced that our approach in planning for concentrated growth, which in turn provides good infrastructure to support our communities, was right. We are pleased that the inspector has now confirmed that approach.

'Our next steps are to build a true partnership with Broadland residents and communities to make sure future developments to deliver jobs, homes and prosperity across the district serve them well and that Broadland continues to be the special place to live and work in that it is today.'

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said: 'This is good news and reinforces the limits on development that we have set to the southwest of Norwich and recognises that further development over and above that already planned would adversely affect the quality of life of our residents.

'This concludes a lengthy period of consultation and debate and will provide a period of much needed stability.'

But campaigners, some of whom had argued that the homes would be better built to the south-west of Norwich, said they were disappointed with the inspector's findings.

Stephen Heard, from SNUB, whose legal challenge led to the Broadland part of the plan having to be reconsidered, said: 'I'm not entirely surprised, but I will need to examine the modifications that have been proposed.

'We still have the Postwick Hub planning inspector to produce his report and, of course, the NDR is not a given.

'For Norfolk County Council to be going to the market for £60m of funding for a road to nowhere when they are facing £190m of cuts in frontline services seems to me to be inappropriate.

'The other thing is the five-year land supply, and the inspector is quite right to say he is not convinced there is enough land supply to sustain the number of houses.'

He said SNUB and other opposition groups would be organising a meeting on November 26 to talk about the challenges of the Joint Core Strategy.

He added: 'We hope we will bring public pressure to bear to say we don't want this level of development in Norwich. The campaign continues until we make them realise the folly of their ways.'

Among the modifications ordered are that the document is clarified to make clear how much development can happen with and without the Norwich Northern Distributor Road and the Postwick Hub. Another modification is the addition of a new policy, which would ensure there is enough land for housing, should there prove to be a significant shortfall in the future. That was because the inspector was not convinced there is a five-year supply of land for housing.

If a shortfall emerges, the councils would have to produce a short, focussed plan to identify and allocate land which could be immediately delivered for extra housing across the whole of the Norwich policy area.

It is expected that councillors will consider formal adoption by their individual local authorities at the end of January next year.

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