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Your chance to shape the future of Attleborough’s development

PUBLISHED: 10:46 07 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:53 07 December 2014

Aerial view of the centre of Attleborough. Picture by: Mike Page.

Aerial view of the centre of Attleborough. Picture by: Mike Page.

With 4,000 homes earmarked for Attleborough, reporter LAUREN COPE meets the group encouraging residents to help shape its future.

Attleborough town - street showing the Angel Hotel on the left and the Griffin Hotel on the right. Attleborough town - street showing the Angel Hotel on the left and the Griffin Hotel on the right.

It is a figure which will double Attleborough’s population – and see it become the second biggest town, behind Thetford, in Breckland.

The 4,000 homes planned for Attleborough have sparked mounting concerns – how will schools, doctors’ surgeries, transport links and sports facilities cope under the strain of thousands of new residents?

On Sunday, as the festive lights illuminate the town, members of a steering group determined to ensure Attleborough continues to prosper will be encouraging residents to pledge their support.

Made up of councillors, local businesses and other interested parties, the group has been assessing what the town needs most through the community
-led and legally backed Neighbourhood Plan – and now needs your help.

Focus: Education

Thousands of new families and children moving to the town will see a strain put on school places.

With just Attleborough Academy, Attleborough Junior School and Attleborough Infant School - and Chapel Road School currently in Attleborough set to relocate to Old Buckenham - a boost in places is much-needed.

Norfolk County Council has earmarked the infant school as a potential way to ease the pressure - with a plan in place to move the school to a new site as a primary school.

Its current facility would be used as a sixth form centre for the academy’s students.

Headteacher Lucy Wayman said: “The expansion of Attleborough is meaning that we could be short on school places. So the local authority pledged to develop the schools to accommodate the extra children.

“It is early days, we don’t know where we could move to or how many more pupils we will take, but the plan is that it could all be in place by September 2017.”

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: “In response to predicted increase in pupil numbers in the town, we are proposing to relocate Attleborough Infant School on to a new site, enabling their current premises on the high school site to be used as sixth form provision.

“We are currently meeting with governors and headteachers at all three schools to discuss how these changes could be implemented from September 2017, and we plan to have a public consultation with parents, pupils and residents of the town within the next year to allow them to have their say.”

Attleborough Town Council successfully applied to Breckland Council under the Localism Act 2011 for the authority to develop the Neighbourhood Plan to shape development alongside Breckland’s emerging Local Plan – the district’s planning blueprint up to 2030.

The approval made Attleborough – which had a population of just under 10,000 in the 2001 Census – the first council in Breckland to achieve the status.

Richard Middleton, town councillor and member of the steering group, said that the councils “all want to work together”.

“We are in partnership with Breckland to make this plan. There is a lot of work to do to provide the infrastructure in the town for 20,000 people.”

Focus: Sports and leisure

Providing enough sports and leisure facilities to support the influx of new residents is high on the agenda.

The sector group has recruited an independent consultant to assess what would benefit the town most. Tony Perkins, who is on the group, said the report was expected before Christmas.

“We have looked at the number of pitches and inside courts in the town and also having a swimming pool has been a hot topic.

“We have done work with the academy and one of the main things the kids said was that they wanted a swimming pool,” he said.

The town’s wide range of sports groups and organisations make use of the existing facilities, but it is thought they would not be fit to cope with an extra 4,000 homes.

Mr Perkins said that “not everyone is unhappy” and cited the Connaught Bowls Club as an example, who have a strong membership and good facilities on Station Road.

“But there is a lot of work to be done,” he added. “We have an awful lot of catching up to be because we seem to have been neglected for some years now.”

He added that the group wanted the development to be “employment led”.

Six sector groups have been set up to focus on specific issues – education, sports and leisure, employment, health and social care, transport and developers.

Work on homes has started in a site on London Road, with another in New Road set to begin shortly. Last month, a preferred route linking Lond Road with Bunns Bank was approved to ease traffic strain.

Mark Kiddle-Morris, Breckland Council executive member for Assets and Strategic Development said: “Attleborough and Besthorpe Councils have been proactive in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan.

“Through taking a lead in this way, they can help ensure that the long-term needs of their communities are addressed. The plan will work alongside Breckland’s emerging Local Plan and also comply with national planning guidelines.”

The group – which includes representatives from Besthorpe and Old Buckenham Parish Councils – will submit plans for preferred infrastructure. The submission target date is early summer 2015.

For more information on the plan or to sign up for updates, visit www.attleboroughnp.org.uk

Representatives from the group will be at the Christmas lights switch-on onSunday in Queen’s Square, where those concerned can sign up to show their interest and receive updates on their progress.

THE HISTORY OF ATTLEBOROUGH

• The Anglo-Saxon foundation of the settlement is unrecorded, but it is thought that it is a foundation of an Atlinge, then King of that province.

• In the Domesday survey launched in 1085 is it referred to as Attleburc.

• After the Danes swept across Norfolk and seized Thetford, it is believed that the Saxons rallied their forces at Attleborough.

• A large part of the town was destroyed by fire in 1559. During this period the Griffin Hotel was built, and in the cellars of the Griffin that prisoners on the way to March Assizes in Thetford were confined overnight.

• The arrivals of prisoners sparked interest and traders responded by setting up a fair whenever they came, an event which became konwn as Attleborough Rogues Fair.

• The first turnpike in England is reputed to have been created in Attleborough at the end of the 17th century.

• The first national census of 1801 listed the population as 1,333 - and by 1845 it is recorded as nearly 2,000.

• The town had six pubs, The Griffin, The Angel, The Bear, The Cock, The Crown and The White Horse.

• In 1863 a corn exchange was built in the High Street and in 1896 the Gaymers cider-making plant was built.

• During 1939 the Old Post Office was sold, becoming the Doric Restaurant instead. It is now the Town Hall.

• The 2001 Census recorded a population of 9,702. The town has an area of roughly 22 square kilometres.

What do you think Attleborough needs? Contact lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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