Two thirds oppose 1,800-home bid in survey amid infrastructure concerns
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Two thirds of people surveyed on plans for 1,800 new homes in North Walsham say they oppose the bid, while others say investment in infrastructure is key before work starts.
The homes, school and other facilities would be built on land between Norwich Road and Cromer Road as part of the North Walsham West plan being proposed by North Norfolk District Council.
But many readers who replied to a poll run by this newspaper said the town "can't cope" with the increase in population without a significant investment in facilities, with others saying the new homes would mean North Walsham would lose its identity as a small market town.
Sixty-five per cent opposed the plans. One respondent said: "We can't cope with what we've got, the doctors and other facilities need to be be upgraded before we even think about adding to the town."
Another said that it "will increase the size of a heritage town by approximately a third".
They added: "The local amenities such as surgeries, dentists and the local highway infrastructure cannot cope currently, these plans will only add to the problems.
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"What is currently a vibrant close knit community will be lost for ever."
Just over half of readers said that if built, the new homes should be for local people only.
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Roughly 87pc of the 230 people who responded said the town's amenities would not be able to cope with a significant increase in population.
There are currently no plans to build a new healthcare centre, although the council says discussions will be had with the NHS and local clinical commissioning groups to provide one.
A quarter of readers said they supported plans, with the remaining 10pc unsure. Many of those in favour of the plans said the new homes were necessary for young families.
One respondent said: "People need houses and this gives young families the opportunity to move to North Walsham."
Another added said: "Attracting more people will ultimately attract more business and therefore be economically and socially beneficial for the town.
"More business would also perhaps help the environment by cutting down on unnecessary car journeys to Norwich or elsewhere if what they need and want can be acquired here."
Some said a fewer number of homes and a promise to improve the town's existing facilities before construction began on houses would change their opinion.
Of those who wanted new facilities, top of the list was healthcare centres, with a drive-through takeaway, petrol station and more varied shops also deemed necessary in the town.
What are the plans?
Along with the new homes and school, plans will see seven hectares of new retail and employment land, a new park and a new community centre which will "be grouped to complement and enhance existing leisure and community uses" such as Rossi’s and the football club.
New shops and offices will be built to the north of Cromer Road and Bradfield Road, adjacent to existing shops such as Waitrose.
A link road would be built at the top of Norwich Road near the town entrance.
This road will run through the development to Bradfield Road where it will connect to the Laundry Loke industrial estate, allowing tall lorries to bypass the railway bridge on Cromer Road which is often struck.