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Deadlock over new town bid

PUBLISHED: 08:56 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:48 12 July 2010

Council chiefs are at loggerheads over controversial plans to build a new town to the south of Norwich - as campaigners call for the scheme to be scrapped.

Council chiefs are at loggerheads over controversial plans to build a new town to the south of Norwich - as campaigners call for the scheme to be scrapped.

The Greater Norwich Development Partnership, made up of four councils, is putting together the finishing touches to where to place 24,000 new homes as part of a planning blueprint for the next decade.

On December 18 the partnership is expected to approve where the houses should go and finally sign off a joint core months later than planned.

Three options are on the table, but the talks are still deadlocked over whether to press ahead with a controversial new town scheme for 6,700 homes at Mangreen, near Norwich.

South Norfolk council is pushing for the new town development and is resisting plans for extra homes along the A11 corridor at Wymondham and Hethersettt.

But Norwich City Council fears that the new town would cause gridlock on the A140 Ipswich Road into Norwich and at Bracondale.

Last month more than 200 people attended a public meeting to discuss concerns about the plans.

Critics believe South Norfolk favours Mangreen because it would help deliver the long-awaited Long Stratton bypass, and are not convinced at the council's claims that a bus lane could run along Ipswich Road into the city to help cope with the extra traffic.

Yesterday GNDP officials held informal talks to see if a deal could be thrashed out - but what is not clear is whether the whole strategy could collapse over the Mangreen issue.

The issue has been complicated after City Hall officials told the partnership last week that it had delivered 3,000 homes sooner than planned - because it had not taken into account the tighter densities of redevelopments in areas such as Mile Cross and Earlham.

During earlier talks South Norfolk rejected a Norwich deal to reduce its allocation by the same amount - if Mangreen was shelved.

Meanwhile campaigners fighting the Mangreen plans have written to the GNDP raising “serious concerns” about the proposals.

The Mangreen Action Committee, which is being supported by six surrounding parish councils said the scheme would create a dormitory town and see traffic gridlocked at Harford Bridges.

Geoff Loades, chairman of Swardeston Parish Council, said it would make more sense to spread development across the area and the rest of Norfolk to help existing villages remain viable.

“This is closer to the centre of Norwich than Taverham or Hellesdon,” he said. “There will be problems with public transport and it will lead to the desecration of agricultural land. New towns might be the flavour of the month, but we would question whether this is really suitable.”

David Hook, of Norfolk CPRE, which supports the anti-Mangreen effort, said the whole housing issue needed a rethink.

“It's unsustainable to put a small version of Milton Keynes just outside of the southern bypass,” he said. “We need to address these ridiculous housing figures. If enough people in Norfolk stick their hands up and say they don't want this may be we can get these numbers reduced.”

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