Fight over 650 homes on edge of Norwich is back on as public inquiry looms

Land at Cringleford next to the A11 where new homes could be built.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Land at Cringleford next to the A11 where new homes could be built.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A controversial bid to build up to 650 homes on the edge of Norwich, turned down almost 12 months ago amid fierce opposition, could yet go ahead.

A six-day public inquiry into proposals for the homes on farmland either side of the A11 and to the side of the existing Roundhouse Way development in Cringleford will start later this month.

The inquiry has been triggered because Land Fund Limited - made up of a number of landowners - has appealed against a decision by South Norfolk Council's planning committee to turn down the application in July last year.

As well as the houses – a mix of one, two, three, four and five- bedroom homes – the developer wanted to provide up to 2.500 square metres of commercial floor space, which could have included restaurants, bars, shops or a GP surgery.

But the planning committee refused to grant outline permission.

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The reasons included that part of the land proposed for the development would be needed to make improvements to the Thickthorn roundabout; that it was not acceptable that proposed playing pitches would be separated by the A11 and that not enough information had been provided about the impact of the retail element of the development on other areas.

But Land Fund believes the committee got the decision wrong and hopes to make the case at the public inquiry that the scheme should go ahead.

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They argue their own scheme for the Thickthorn interchange would help cope with traffic and that with no 'preferred scheme' for improvements to the junction in place, the council was wrong to reject their application.

The consortium also says the plan for the playing fields has been revised to locate them in one area south of the A11 and that they can prove the retail on the site would not harm other areas.

Nobody from Birmingham-based planning consultancy Turley, the agent for Land Fund, was available for comment. But in documents lodged ahead of the inquiry, they stated: 'None of the reasons for refusal given by South Norfolk Council are reasonable or justified, and a robust case will be made to ensure that their position is comprehensively put to the inspector in the proofs of evidence at the inquiry.'

However, critics, including Cringleford Parish Council, will be pushing for the planning inspector to stick with South Norfolk Council's rejection.

Cringleford was one of the first parishes in the country to draw up a parish plan to serve as a blueprint for where new homes could be tolerated.

Barratt Eastern Counties has been given outline permission for 800 homes on land off Newfound Farm, subject to conditions being met, which the parish council had vigorously opposed.

Parish councillor Malcolm Wagstaff said: 'If Barratt get their 800 and Land Fund their 650 that will be more than 1,200, which is contrary to the parish plan. We have put our case in writing and will be attending the inquiry. We are hoping other parishioners will do so as well.'

At the inquiry, a planning inspector will consider evidence from all sides and will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, in whose hands a decision ultimately rests.

The public inquiry will start at South Norfolk Council's offices in Long Stratton from 10am on Tuesday, June 16.

• Do you think more homes are needed in and around Norwich? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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