Crunch time over blueprint for nearly 50,000 new homes

Work under way on a new housing development in Norfolk

Inspectors are to hold hearings to help determine if a blueprint which details where nearly 50,000 homes could be built in Norwich, South Norfolk and Broadland is sound. - Credit: Chris Bishop

A date has been set for crucial hearings which will determine where thousands of homes can be built in parts of Norfolk over the next two decades.

Work to put together the blueprint for where almost 50,000 new homes would be acceptable in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk has been going on for years.

That document - the Greater Norwich Local Plan - outlines areas councils would allocate for housing, making it more likely planning applications in those places would get the go-ahead.

Some 5,000 of the homes have already been built and the locations of around 74pc have been identified in previous plans, but the document needed to allocate locations for the rest of the housing.

The plan includes 12,000 new homes in Norwich and hundreds more in places such as Hellesdon, Drayton, Taverham and Thorpe St Andrew. 

With a focus on employment at places such as Norwich Research Park, there would also be more than a thousand new homes in Hethersett and Cringleford, with 2,615 in Wymondham.

There would also be 13,505 to the north east of Norwich.

But, before the document can be used to help weigh up whether applications should get permission, it needs to be found to be sound by planning inspectors.

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And should the plan not be deemed to be sound, it could create a situation where developers try to get homes built in areas which had been deemed less acceptable.

Inspectors Mike Worden and Thomas Hatfield have been appointed by the Planning Inspectorate to hold the independent examination of the plan.

That will involve a series of public hearings, which will be held virtually, starting at 9.30am on Tuesday, February 1.

Shaun Vincent, Broadland District Council leader. Pic: Archant Library.

Shaun Vincent, chair of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership. - Credit: Submitted

When the plan was submitted for examination in the summer, Shaun Vincent, chair of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership, said: "We need to make sure that future growth brings benefits for all, while protecting our environment and providing for a sustainable future."

However, the Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Rural England, had raised concerns.

Those concerns included that the housing numbers were too high, homes were mooted for "unsustainable" rural locations and that the Norwich Western Link's inclusion was "incompatible" with a desire to prevent climate change.