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Getting plans for Norfolk homes through quicker can boost economy, says council leader

PUBLISHED: 16:14 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:40 27 May 2020

South Norfolk Council intends to speed up planning decisions to get more construction done. Picture: James Bass

South Norfolk Council intends to speed up planning decisions to get more construction done. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Extra meetings to speed up decisions over planning will play a vital role to help Norfolk’s economy bounce back as coronavirus restrictons are relaxed, a council leader has said.

John Fuller, Conservative leader of South Norfolk Council. Picture: South Norfolk CouncilJohn Fuller, Conservative leader of South Norfolk Council. Picture: South Norfolk Council

With the government saying it expects businesses which are “COVID-safe” and adhere to social distancing rules, to reopen from June 15, South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller said the authority needs to help kick-start the local economy.

The council is looking to hold fortnightly planning committee meetings and says it will prioritise business applications, giving the recovery of the economy specific weight in the planning balance when reaching decisions.

The council says it will also take a “positive approach” in allowing construction sites to extend their operating hours - to help compensate for the social distancing restrictions which are still in place.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller said: “It’s vital that we get our local economy moving again and one of the ways your local council can help is by making sure that planning decisions are taken as quickly as possible.

“If we can get the construction sites open again that means that electricians, carpenters and bricklayers will all be able to return to work and the companies that supply the raw materials and the lorry drivers who deliver them, will also be back in business.

“We need to take a pragmatic and flexible approach to helping businesses. If that means doing things differently and finding new ways to work, then that is what we will do.”

The council is also looking at ways to help companies with cash flow. It has already delayed when it expected more than £1m in Community Infrastructure Levy money - essentially a tax on developers to pay for infrastructure.

Mr Fuller said: “While we continue to look after our most vulnerable residents, the recovery phase will be led by district councils working closely with our local businesses and supporting our market towns.

“We understand local issues and we are best placed to offer the help and support required to get our economy working again.

“That way, we will not only keep roofs over people’s heads, we will also help keep them in jobs.”


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