Outline plans for at least 803 new homes at Sprowston narrowly approved

The John Faircloth sales site on Salhouse Road, near to where an application for 803 new homes has b

The John Faircloth sales site on Salhouse Road, near to where an application for 803 new homes has been made. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Planning officers at Broadland went to 'exceptional lengths' to bring together seven landowners for a comprehensive plan for hundreds of new homes between Sprowston and Thorpe End.

After mediation failed, a consortium made up of five landowners presented a 'messy' and piecemeal' outline application for at least 803 homes on part of the site, which was approved by the planning committee this morning.

A detailed application for the land south of Salhouse Road, part of the Norwich Growth Triangle, must now be made within six years. As one of six routes identified for bus rapid transit corridors, the site will make allowances for a new link road.

An EIA screening assessment has also been put forward for around 425 homes on the land of the other two landowners.

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Head of planning Phil Courtier told the committee difficulties between the two consortia had caused the officers a 'long term problem.'

'I would prefer to see a comprehensive development but that is not what we are faced with,' he said. 'This is the best option before us.'

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The scheme would only include 25pc of affordable housing after viability studies carried out by the consortium showed a greater number would not turn enough profit.

However, if greater profit than expected is achieved, a 'clawback' clause will be activated for additional funds to go to the district council for more affordable homes in the area.

There is also currently a four hectare shortfall of recreation space, which will be addressed at the detailed planning stage.

Andrew Cawdron, of Great and Little Plumstead parish council, warned: 'Once this outline consent is granted certain aspects of it are irretrievable. Consent would then be given for five overcrowded housing estates on different fields, with lots of missing open space provision. 'Essential infrastructure needs are being parked for future resolution and significant policy requirements are not being met by these proposals. 'To grant consent would bring a dangerous precedent for planning consent in piecemeal development.'

Paul Carrick, for Hevingham, said the plan 'doesn't sit comfortably'.

'The jigsaw is not fully there,' he said. 'I think the planning inspector would be sympathetic to our refusal here. We are trying to look at a bigger picture but there is so much missing. The applicant is saying things may be done on the other land when we have no commitments from the other landowner.'

But Mr Courtier said deferring the scheme would allow the other landowners to hold the council to 'ransom'.

'The only way they would then come to the table is if they get a better deal,' he said.

'I have never co-ordinated a formal and relatively expensive mediation process to get heads together before. We have already gone to exceptional lengths to try to get these parties together.'

Lana Hempsall, for Acle, agreed it was the best deal.

'On any masterplan it is going to be difficult to get every single landowner to agree on moving forward at the same time and I think the consortium has done a really good job getting as many together as they have,' she said. 'The application is messy, but if you look at the list of conditions I can't see how the officers could have made any more effort to tie up the loose ends.'

The committee voted by eight to seven to delegate authority to the head of planning to approve the scheme, subject to conditions and a sec 106 agreement.

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