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'The village is being destroyed'- Life in Norfolk's fastest growing community

PUBLISHED: 08:38 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:42 28 October 2019

Paul Langham, a bar supervisor, welcomes the expansion of Rackheath as it will improve business. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Paul Langham, a bar supervisor, welcomes the expansion of Rackheath as it will improve business. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Archant

There are green fields, a small but bustling cafe and homes tucked away in the countryside.

Rackheath is located within the Norwich Policy Area Growth Triangle. Picture: Google MapsRackheath is located within the Norwich Policy Area Growth Triangle. Picture: Google Maps

But life in Rackheath, which looks set to become Norfolk's fastest growing village, is set to change dramatically.

Over the past few years, councillors have given the green light to four different schemes which would see nearly 5,000 new homes built across the village and up to three new schools, shops, medical facilities and recreational space.

Daphne Wyatt has lived in Rackheath for nearly 40 years and seen it change considerably. Picture: Ruth LawesDaphne Wyatt has lived in Rackheath for nearly 40 years and seen it change considerably. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Should these developments go ahead, it could see Rackheath's population of around 1,500 people increase by more than 400pc.

And opinion on the expansion is divided.

The Hill Top cafe in Rackheath hopes the expansion will increase business. Picture: Ruth LawesThe Hill Top cafe in Rackheath hopes the expansion will increase business. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Joanna Stockwin moved to Rackheath in 2000 because it was a quiet, rural village that wasn't far away from amenities and ideal for bringing up a young family.

"But now the village is being destroyed," she said. "You can't get out unless you join the rat run - the NDR - which is petrifying when your child is now learning to drive."

Peter Wyatt said he is still pretty happy to be living in Rackheath. Picture: Ruth LawesPeter Wyatt said he is still pretty happy to be living in Rackheath. Picture: Ruth Lawes

"The noise from the NDR is awful, goodness knows how much more air pollution we have. And now nearly every green field is going to be built on, totally devastating."

She added she had been battling against the planning applications for years and was told by a developer at an open meeting that the land would be built on no matter what.

Ms Stockwin said: "Most importantly for several of us, the kids have spent years playing in the woods and learning about the bunkers in the war. My grandmother was telling her stories of the American airman kissing the ground in Rackheath when they landed."

"So much history is being lost." she added.

Emma Wickham, a 44-year-old NHS secretary, said she too feared the loss of green space. Her house backs out onto open fields and she said it wouldn't last much longer.

The mother-of-three added: "I don't particularly like the idea. And there is no policing here and I fear crime will go on the up with the extra people."

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Safety was also a concern for Daphne and Peter Wyatt who have lived on a Rackheath cul-de-sac for nearly 40 years.

Mrs Wyatt, 83, said: "It's currently a very safe area for all the children to play, but I can't imagine they will be able to play anymore with all the new houses. "

The married couple, who have celebrated a 60th wedding anniversary, said they were pretty happy to be living in Rackheath but mourned the loss of communication over the years.

Mr Wyatt, 90, said: "It's isolated up here. I don't feel we have any communication at all from the community, especially as the magazine folded as there weren't enough volunteers.

"We have no real problems here. People keep themselves to themselves but that is the trend of the young people who have moved in.

"We enjoyed it while it was better, but it's too late to mind now. Plus, that's just what old people say all the time!"

The sense of community was also an issue which affected a 65-year-old, who did not want to be named.

She said there was a lack of community spirit as most of the homeowners commute to Norwich and aren't around during the day.

Other people in Rackheath, however, didn't have strong feelings on the plans and felt that it was an inevitable part of modern society.

Joanne Robinson, a 42-year-old nurse, said: "I don't have a particular problem with it. The population is getting bigger and they need housing. It's just how it is. It won't be a village for too long. It will just become an extension of Sprowston."

And for two local businesses, the expansion is more than welcome news.

"Bring it on." said Cornelia Hall, the 40-year-old co-owner of The Hill Top cafe on Stone Hill. "I think it's brilliant. But then I own a business so I would say that."

Paul Langham, a bar supervisor at The Green Man pub on Wroxham Road, agreed and said: "As a business I'm quite happy, and while we're ticking along, I hope the extra houses and the custom that will bring, will get us to where we want to be.

"There already seems to be a great sense of community here so I don't think that will be destroyed. We have lots of regular locals who come to the pub, and they don't seem to be opposed to the plans."

What do you think of Rackheath's expansion? Email ruth.lawes@archant.co.uk

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