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Developers offer reassurances to Hethersett residents after removal of congestion pledge

PUBLISHED: 09:22 03 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 July 2014

David Bills, Conservative candidate for Hethersett

David Bills, Conservative candidate for Hethersett

Bunnco

Developers have attempted to reassure Hethersett residents after concerns were raised about a change which would remove a guarantee to revamp the village’s crowded roads before starting work on 1,100 homes.

The controversial plans for the homes - which were approved by South Norfolk Council last year - included conditions to install a foot and cycle path down Colney Lane and to improve busy junctions before any development started.

Improvements would upgrade the Norwich Road, Colney Lane and Station Road crossroads and Great Melton Road.

But in a letter to South Norfolk Council in April, development firm Bidwells applied to amend the conditions, citing an “error in the drafting”.

If approved, the change would mean that developers could build and sell more than 300 homes before much-needed road improvements begin.

David Bills and Leslie Dale, district councillors for Hethersett, raised their concerns.

Mr Bills said: “I am against the idea of starting the development before sorting the traffic – it is like building a new football stadium that will cater for 30,000 people without building a road to it.”

Mr Dale added that the foot and cycleway needed to be installed at the “earliest possible time”.

Paul Clark, head of the Bidwells Norwich office, insisted that the firm had every intention to upgrade the roads.

He said: “It is about getting the timing right. The infrastructure won’t benefit anyone because there won’t be any houses built.

“We absolutely believe that we need these changes but we need them at the right time.”

But South Norfolk Council has been flooded with letters from residents concerned about building traffic adding to already crowded roads.

Lisa Howard, who lives in Great Melton Road, said: “The roads in question need to be improved to improve the safety of Hethersett residents. Any increase in traffic as a result of the development will cause increased safety concerns for pedestrians.”

Anna Sandfield, who lives in Henstead Road, uses Back Lane and Colney Lane four times a day to get to work.

She said: “Both roads are rat runs and far too busy for their size, particularly in the rush hours.

“Construction traffic added to this mix would not only be dangerous but would also damage what are already highways in poor condition.

“I know of cyclists that have been knocked into ditches along both roads and I would fear greatly for their safety should this amendment go ahead.”

Contact reporter Lauren Cope on Lauren.cope@archant.co.uk or 07584 311473.

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