Wildlife worries over plans for 670 houses near Norwich

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EVT 0404 - Credit: Archant

A major development of almost 700 homes on the edge of Norwich has failed to win the support of the Broads Authority – because of 'significant' concerns over its impact on Whitlingham Country Park and wildlife such as kingfishers and bats.

There are also fears that extra traffic to the Deal Ground development will put pressure on nearby roads and could result in the park becoming a 'playground' for the 1,500 potential residents of the site.

The proposals submitted to Norwich City Council last month could see up to 670 homes built on 19 hectares of brownfield land between Whitlingham and Trowse, along with commercial units, a pub, restaurant, access roads and a car park.

But Broads Authority members yesterday refused to give the plans their backing until outstanding issues were dealt with, including extra funding for Whitlingham Country Park, improving leisure access to the River Yare and replacing natural habitats lost in the development.

The Broads Authority is a consultee on the plans and will feed its comments back to Norwich City Council.

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Professor Jacqui Burgess said that traffic leaving the site and turning right towards Norwich would cross paths with the tourist traffic towards the country park – some half-a-million visitors a year.

'Trowse already has to close itself to traffic in rush hour because it is so busy,' she said, questioning why vehicles had to be funnelled through the south of the site and suggesting a bridge to disperse traffic to the north.

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'There are major traffic issues that we need to think about,' she added.

Whitlingham Charitable Trust has also highlighted that a link from the north-east of the Deal Ground site to the country park could lead to it 'becoming an intensively used playground' for residents, and insisted that additional funding is necessary to maintain the quality of the area.

Broads Authority chairman Stephen Thompson said the 'canyon effect' of building the tallest buildings – some of up to eight storeys – closest to the river could block it from sight for many.

'Building up to the river seems counter-intuitive when we should building down to the river to give everyone a view of it,' he said.

The report also comments on the 'regrettable' lack of detail on moorings or other recreational river facilities, without which the Broads Authority should not back the proposals.

It says the loss of a river corridor habitat would have a 'very significant' impact, adding: 'This would have an adverse effect on species that rely on a semi-natural corridor for foraging such as kingfisher and bats.'

Breaking up the river corridor from the county wildlife site nearby would exacerbate that effect, it adds, and would not be fully compensated by the open green areas within the development.

The plans include the conversion of a Grade II-listed kiln into a home for bats.

The site is split between Norwich City Council, where it is due to be discussed next month, and South Norfolk Council.

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