Where will new homes go in Waveney?
- Credit: Archant © 2005
Up to 9,500 homes may need to be built in Waveney over the next 20 years – and people are being urged to give their views.
It could transform one of the most picturesque parts of the country renowned for its areas of outstanding natural beauty and stunning open space.
And now, council officers are appealing for residents to tell them where homes should be built to help meet the demand of an economic revival – before it is too late.
Waveney District Council estimates that at least 7,000 homes will need to be built in the next 20 years to cope with the needs of the area's changing population.
But with growth in the renewable energy industry set to create many new jobs, it says as many as 9,500 new homes could be needed – otherwise demand might exceed supply.
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That means the rate of housebuilding will need to double in the next 20 years – and that the council is faced with a huge challenge of where to build the homes needed, but in a way that existing communities are happy with.
Yet even though David Ritchie, the council's cabinet member for planning and coastal management, said the consultation could 'play a crucial role in the future of the district', only a handful of responses to potential sites in Lowestoft has been received.
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He added: 'Given that this is a hugely important piece of work which will play a crucial role in the future of the district, we are very keen to hear from people in all locations.
'There are some very interesting suggestions for the areas north and south of Lowestoft and we really do not want people to miss this opportunity to take part.
'Local contributions are a vital part of any decisions we take.'
People can respond to the consultation online by visiting www.waveney.gov.uk/newlocalplan
• POSSIBLE LOCATIONS
Waveney District Council has put forward four options in a consultation due to run until June 17.
In each option, most of the growth would be focused on the Lowestoft area as the main population centre of the district with the facilities and infrastructure to cope with extra demand.
But its options also include promoting more growth in Beccles, spread the development more evenly across the district or even creating a new settlement of between 1,540 and 1,905 homes.
Council officers have also stressed that the number of sites suggested is far more than they actually need.
Without building homes to provide for that need, the council believes demand would exceed supply – pushing up the cost of housing and pricing people out of the market.
• A CHANGING POPULATION
Population data have shown that Waveney's population is increasing, with the number of over-85s seeing the biggest increase.
If the area fulfils its full potential in attracting new people to take up jobs in renewable energy, it believes as many as 9,500 homes could be needed.
However, council officers say even if there is no growth in population, new homes will need to be built – because there is a trend of smaller numbers of people living in homes.
As people living with relatives move out into homes of their own, that means more dwellings are needed.
Yet despite that, the council says the greatest need is for family homes, with about 40pc of today's population living in one- or two-bedroom homes and the remaining 60pc in larger properties.