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Public likely to be kept in dark when blueprint for new homes is discussed

PUBLISHED: 14:33 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:37 26 September 2019

Green city councillor Lesley Grahame. Picture: David Hannant`

Green city councillor Lesley Grahame. Picture: David Hannant`

Archant

Discussions over a blueprint for where thousands of homes and jobs could be created in and around Norwich are mired in controversy - but the public is likely to be kept in the dark over the circumstances.

Councillors are due to talk about the Greater Norwich Local Plan on Thursday afternoon, but key parts of the meeting look set to take place behind closed doors.

The plan is a blueprint for where thousands of new homes, in addition to 35,000 already earmarked for the Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk areas, could be built.

However, there have been fireworks between different councils over its development.

At one point the scheduled meeting of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership. which includes representatives from Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council, was cancelled amid the disagreements.

But the meeting will now happen, although what the public gets to hear is likely to be limited.

The process of putting the plan out for consultation to the public is due to be discussed.

However, it has emerged that the specifics of the plan are likely to be discussed behind closed doors.

At a meeting of Norwich City Council's sustainable development panel, councillors heard that, while City Hall had been happy for the details to be publicised, the chairman of the partnership, Shaun Vincent, Broadland District Council leader, did not want it to be.

City councillor Mike Stonard said: "We were happy for the debate to be heard in public.

"It's fair to infer there were some others who were not happy for the emerging local plan to be discussed in public."

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It is understood that some of the concerns are around the quality of the work which has been done,.

But Green councillor Lesley Grahame said: "It begs the question of what are they trying to hide?"

Mr Vincent said: "The meeting is in public and the meeting is open.

"What isn't at the moment or hasn't been sent out, is the first draft of the Local Plan.

"There's nothing untoward about it.

"We won't put that out to the public until the group agrees it's to go out."

He added: "The reason for that is because it's quite sensitive.

"It has site allocations and things like that and we don't want to put out one version and then another.

"That's the only reason at this stage why that's not out there.

"It needs to go though due process. We're now at the point where we're deciding whether we're ready to release a draft of the plan or not."

The emerging plan will have to be made public when it goes out for consultation, due to happen next month.

Local plans set out councils' planning policies and identify places where development is more likely to be acceptable.

Schemes would still need to get planning permission.

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