Infrastructure plan could enable Breckland’s growth

Key infrastructure projects which are vital to unlock the potential for population and housing growth in Breckland have been prioritised in a new report.

The 130-page Integrated Delivery Document (IDD) outlines time-frames and budgets for schemes which could open up land for planned business estates and 19,000 new homes across the district between now and 2026.

More than half of those houses are expected to be built in Attleborough and Thetford, which are the subject of individual visions for 'sustainable growth'.

The report, the first of its kind to be produced for Breckland, details necessary improvements in road, energy, water and communication networks.

It outlines several important projects where money is already available, such as the Attleborough Distributor Road project which has secured �11m from developer contributions and Highways Agency grants.

But there are other pivotal schemes which have yet to find funding, including the top two short-term priorities: An �8m electricity substation to serve the 5,000 planned homes in the northern expansion of Thetford, and a �5m energy grid for the Snetterton Heath employment area.

The report will be presented to Breckland Council's ruling cabinet on Tuesday by executive member for planning, health and housing Paul Claussen and economic portfolio-holder Mark Kiddle-Morris.

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It says: 'Breckland is on the cusp of a period of significant change and development. The announcement that the A11 will be fully dualled will undoubtedly accelerate growth, validating Breckland's strategy of focused growth at three key sites on the A11, together with the wider regeneration of Thetford.

'Despite the significantly challenging funding environment, the growth and change in Breckland is not directly reliant on national funding in order to be delivered. Developer contributions will still be able to deliver the critical infrastructure ... but there is likely to be a need for some public funding to ensure fully sustainable development.'

The preferred option to fill the funding gap at Snetterton Heath is for an energy service company to fund the installation of a new energy grid. But the report recognises developer contributions or public money could also be required.

The report says a number of projects – including improvements to rail, bus and road links – are needed to underpin the massive anticipated growth in Thetford, where a detailed action plan is currently undergoing public consultation.

The next largest growth area is Attleborough, where a petition signed by 2,700 residents is calling for Breckland Council to commit to major infrastructure improvements before any new housing is built. The petition is due to be debated by councillors on Thursday.