Call for rethink over 37,000 new homes in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:30 29 January 2013 | UPDATED: 09:59 29 January 2013

Campaigners are calling for Norfolk housing targets to be revised.

Campaigners are calling for Norfolk housing targets to be revised.

Think again before allowing 37,000 new homes to be built in and around Norwich - that’s the message to council leaders from almost 30 organisations worried housing could ruin the areas’ character.

An alliance made up of ,ore than a dozen parish councils and campaign groups have sent letter to key figures at local councils urging them to scrap the housing targets.

Under a planning blueprint, known as the Joint Core Strategy, the Greater Norwich Development Partnership, made up of Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council. South Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council, have outlined where homes ought to be built up to 2026.

A legal challenge against that plan led to a high court judge last year telling the councils they had not demonstrated why an area to the north east of Norwich had been chosen for up to 10,000 homes, ahead of alternative sites.

The strategy is about to be resubmitted to an inspector, with officers having reached the same conclusion as before over where the homes should be.

But campaigners argue the world has changed since then and, with the economic climate slowing housebuilding to a snail’s pace, the targets should be reviewed.

That alliance of campaigner is spearheaded by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and includes parish councils such as Hethersett, Rackheath, Great and Little Plumstead and Salhouse.

David Hook, CPRE Norfolk’s alliance spokesman said: “CPRE Norfolk has consistently called for a reduction in local housing targets because the 37,000 new houses planned for the GNDP area threaten our core objectives of protecting and enhancing the rural environment.

“The high level of development envisaged, much of it on greenfield sites, will lead to a severe erosion of the features that make the countryside surrounding Norwich so special.

“Rural areas will be suburbanised and tranquility will diminish as population density, traffic congestion, light and noise pollution increase.”

However, Andrew Proctor, leader of Broadland District Council and former chairman of the GNDP, said the housing targets were still valid.

He said: “It’s worth pointing out that the judge did not say the housing figures had to be changed following the legal challenge. The census showed our population is increasing and we are planning up to 2026, so it’s not unreasonable to plan for a similar increase. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the figures.”

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