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Anger over Hethersett homes 'false hopes'

PUBLISHED: 10:19 19 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 16 September 2010

Developers hoping to build 1,100 homes in Hethersett have been accused of potentially raising false hopes over the benefits the building might bring.

A group of landowners who want to build in the village last year made a submission to South Norfolk Council signalling how they hoped thousands of new homes could be constructed there.

DEVELOPERS hoping to build 1,100 homes in Hethersett have been accused of potentially raising false hopes over the benefits the building might bring.

A group of landowners who want to build in the village last year made a submission to South Norfolk Council signalling how they hoped thousands of new homes could be constructed there.

The group, known as Hethersett Land, initially hoped to build up to 4,000 homes, but have scaled it back to 1,100 - closer to the number which a draft blueprint for future housebuilding in and around Norwich thinks Hethersett could cope with.

Companies representing the landowners - Ptarmigan Land and architects John Thompson and Partners - organised community meetings earlier this year where they spoke to families about the plans, but opponents to the scheme organised their own meetings in response.

A newsletter has been delivered to villagers by Hethersett Land in which they list ideas which they could fund through what are known as section 106 contributions.

But that has come under fire from Hethersett Parish Council, which claims they are trying to present the building of homes as a fait accompli and making suggestions for community improvements they might not be able to deliver.

Ian Weetman, clerk to Hethersett Parish Council, said: “The newsletter gives the impression that the suggested area of development from this organisation is a 'fait accompli'. A question of when rather than if.

“The newsletter has the potential to raise false hopes in the community for infrastructure that COULD be funded by the developer, such as a new library, village hall and a centre for the elderly - areas over which the developer has no direct control.

“The newsletter gives the impression that the developer is speaking on behalf of the whole community - there is no basis for this, rather some feedback from meetings that they arranged, ignoring feedback from another meeting that was against the proposed development.

“The parish council wishes to make it clear that if there is to be future development in the village, the debate needs to be based upon accurate and detailed information of what can actually be delivered.”

But Hugo Kirby, managing director of Ptarmigan Land, said: “It isn't a fait accompli. Planning is a very uncertain business and from our point of view we are trying to respond to where the council is saying homes should be built.

“The reality is that the possibilities for what our contributions might be spent on are just ideas, but some of them we can deliver ourselves. We could build a new youth centre and public toilets and a care home for the elderly, although I agree usually somebody else would manage the latter one.

“The parish council are quite right when they say there needs to be a discussion and I stand by what I said at the community planning event - if there's something people need or do not want they are the ones who should make the noise.

“I really do genuinely encourage people to get involved a say they need x, y or z, but don't want a, b or c because that way we can work together.”

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