New town added to Norfolk map as villagers become townsfolk
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press
Norfolk is about to get a new town added to the map when the villagers of Long Stratton officially become townsfolk.
Long Stratton Parish Council will become a town council at the local elections in May, granting the village on the A140 its new found status as Norfolk's newest town.
The change is designed to reflect its fast growing population and that it is set to experience a transformation with thousands of new homes in the next decade.
A review of electoral boundaries by South Norfolk Council's electoral arrangements review committee recommended that the council status be upgraded and the number of councillors be increased from the current 11 to 13 with the population predicted to rise to more than 5,000 by 2022.
Long Stratton is facing a huge expansion with plans for 1,875 homes and facilities including a new primary school on more than 150 hectares of land to the east and west of the A140, a development that could unlock the long-awaited £20m bypass.
The council is currently garnering residents' opinions over a new Neighbourhood Plan, produced in association with consultants AECOM, on shaping the future of Long Stratton.
Setting out the future vision it states: 'Long Stratton village will grow into a town, but a village feel will be retained. Long Stratton will keep its close links to the surrounding countryside and the characterful feel of the enclosed historic centre will be strengthened not just as a result of reduced through-traffic but due to physical improvements which can take place once the bypass has been built.'
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Becky Buck, clerk to Long Stratton Council, said: 'The two main changes to come with becoming a town is our member count going from 11 to 13 allowing a stronger democratic process and if the council so wishes we can elect a mayor, not something that has been discussed.
'We do not have any plans as such, however through the Neighbourhood Plan, AECOM have carried out a comprehensive study which shows Long Stratton as having a viable future as a market town which is an exciting prospect.'
Local district councillor Des Fulcher said: 'As long as challenges surrounding the infrastructure of the soon to be town are addressed then it has to be a way forward.
'There are issues like parking, doctors' surgeries; a whole host of different issues that really need addressing.
'There are an awful lot of growing pains to be had because you can turn Long Stratton into a town but you need the infrastructure to be there to be able to function as a town as well.'
• Long Stratton Neighbourhood Plan open days are being held at the Methodist Church, Manor Road, on March 16 and 17, from 10am to 4pm.
WHAT VILLAGERS THINK ABOUT BECOMING TOWNSFOLK?
• Colin Gooch (68) — 'I've lived here since 1970 and it has changed a hell of a lot but its just not geared up to be a town. We have no banks, three undertakers, two fish and chips shops and they want to close the toilets. That's a town is it?'
• Dora Lange (32) — 'I didn't think it was big enough to be a town but I don't know what being a town will involve. Hopefully it will be a good thing. I only moved here recently but I think it is a nice place to live.'
• Valerie Shillingford (83) — 'I used to live in Coggeshall and Halstead, both towns in Essex, but they have things like a Sainsbury's and a swimming pool. There are not enough facilities for Long Stratton to be a town. There are not enough shops. The bank has gone, Tudor Bakery has closed.'
• Sue Payne (51) — 'It's not big enough to be a town in terms of amenities. I know it is as growing place and there are going to be new houses but it needs things like doctors' surgeries and bigger schools. We've just got a petition to save the public toilets. How can it be a town without any toilets?'
• Darren Chamberlain (46), owner of Courthouse Occasions card shop — 'I was born in Hempnall but went to school in Long Stratton and it has always been a village to me. For some people it is a close knit community but for others it is just a place to live on the A140.'
• Shirley Leitch (73) — 'It's probably too big to be a village but what are the benefits of being a town? That's what people want to know. They are building a lot of housing but it needs the amenities like doctors, schools and banks. There also needs to be more shops.'