Residents reassured over town expansion

Council chiefs yesterday reiterated that residents would be fully consulted over growth plans for a Norfolk town following fears that the process had so far been “undemocratic.

Council chiefs yesterday reiterated that residents would be fully consulted over growth plans for a Norfolk town following fears that the process had so far been “undemocratic.”

Community leaders and householders in Thetford were left shocked earlier this month after a draft document appeared on Breckland Council's website identifying four areas of the town as prime sites for redevelopment as part of proposals to build 6,000 new homes over the next 15 years.

But members and officers were quick to reassure concerned residents at a policy development and review meeting yesterday that the draft 'Thetford Masterplan' report was not policy or a statement of the council's intent. They added that there would be at least three more stages of “widespread” public consultation before any decisions were made on the location of new housing and employment opportunities in the town.

The document from independent London-based consultants EDAW identifies that the majority of Thetford's new development by 2021 could come greenfield sites, but also suggests that additional homes could be built by partially redeveloping the Abbey Estate, Barnham Cross, Redgate, and east of Croxton Road.

The news prompted an apology from the district council, which said that demolition of people's homes was “unlikely” and that all options had to be considered before additional land could be released.

But Thetford mayor Robert Kybird yesterday said it appeared that EDAW had been making decisions “without democratic input.”

Most Read

However, Andrea Long, environmental planning manager, said the main growth point proposals for the town would come from the Thetford Area Action Plan, which would start early next year and involve three stages of public consultation. She added that work on green infrastructure, water cycle, and bird impact studies were also ongoing.

Ann Steward, executive member for housing and planning, added that residents would not be kept in the dark about developments regarding growth point, which could see a more than £60m government infrastructure investment in Thetford by 2021.

“We will be coming out and consulting and will be coming out to the town. It is vital we have that input because we want Breckland to grow in the right way,” she said.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter