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Just hours remain to have your say on locations of more than 7,000 new homes in Greater Norwich area

PUBLISHED: 06:45 22 March 2018

Gv's of Anglia Square for EN story.
Photo: Angela Sharpe
Copy: Lucy Bolton
For: EN
Archant pics © 2008
(01603) 772434

Gv's of Anglia Square for EN story. Photo: Angela Sharpe Copy: Lucy Bolton For: EN Archant pics © 2008 (01603) 772434

Archant © 2008

Just hours remain to help shape the future of Norwich and its surrounding towns and villages.

Little Tinkers Horse Sanctuary, Bluebell Road, in the Yare Valley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLittle Tinkers Horse Sanctuary, Bluebell Road, in the Yare Valley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

At 5pm today, the window to contribute to the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) - a consultation into where more than 7,000 new homes should be built - closes to comments.

Council bosses have been told that between now and 2036, they must provide almost 43,000 new homes in the area. 
While sites have been identified for some 35,000 of these, locations for the remaining 7,200 must be found, leading to the launch of the GNLP in January.

However, with the deadline looming, the consultation website has come under criticism, with some arguing submitting a response is too fiddly.

The Yare Valley Society, a group which campaigns for protection of areas surrounding the River Yare, even published a step-by-step guide to the website on its own page after supporters raised concerns,

The fields around Honingham Thorpe could be home to a new village.

Picture: Nick ButcherThe fields around Honingham Thorpe could be home to a new village. Picture: Nick Butcher

Chairman John Elbro said: “We did have some concerns about how user-friendly the website was. We put a section on our website to help people with this, and even had somebody write us a step-by-step guide, which we also published.”

Mr Elbro said the society was particularly concerned about green belt land surrounding the valley, some of which had been earmarked for development.

Meanwhile Rebecca Thorby, 41, of Cringleford, said: “The consultation website is inadequate. Unnavigatable would be polite.”

The consultation includes details of an expansive list of potential projects, developments and site purposes, including addressing the future of Anglia Square, plans for the former Constitution Motors on Constitution Hill and countless other sites.

A GNDP spokesman said more than 1,300 people attended the road shows, with more than 3,000 online responses.

They said: “We understand responding online is not easy for everyone and have helped people make their representations by talking them through the online process on the phone and accepting responses by email or letter. Formal consultation ends today, so there is still time to contribute.”

The consultation website is at www.gnlp.org.uk. Alternatively, people can contact 01603 306603 or gnlp@norfolk.gov.uk

How easy is the website to navigate?

Callum Thomas, who is on work experience at this newspaper, had a go at navigating the consultation website. This was his experience:

“Finding the section of the website to make a comment was easy enough, then I clicked on the top right red button stating “Have Your Say”.

“A page with four subheadings and bodies of text followed, explaining things you can comment on: site proposals, growth options, sustainability, and “the evidence base”.

“These points weren’t all particularly clear on what they related to, least of all the fourth, though the most straightforward was the area I wanted to comment on which was a residential site proposal.

“Hyperlinked text saying “comment on sites” took me to a page with five hyperlinked categories, then clicking on my area of interest (Broadland) took me to an exceptionally large webpage consisting of text and tables.

“Each proposal has three symbols next to it (a pencil, a magnifying glass, and a globe), however the process had not been straightforward so far and I missed this.

“I spent a few more minutes navigating around the web pages to check if I had missed where to leave a comment.

“I then went back to the page leading from “comment on sites” and clicked on “help page” which took me to a PDF which indicated that clicking on the pencil symbol next to each proposal would take you to the comment form.

“It took around 12 minutes to complete the process.”

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