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Blueprint for thousands of new homes in Norfolk hit by major government changes

PUBLISHED: 13:38 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:38 01 October 2020

Concerns have been raised over the impact of government changes to a blueprint over where homes are built in Greater Norwich. Picture: Chris Bishop

Concerns have been raised over the impact of government changes to a blueprint over where homes are built in Greater Norwich. Picture: Chris Bishop

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A decision has been made to speed up the process over a blueprint for where thousands of homes could be built in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk - after councillors agreed not to abandon it.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Pic: Rose Sapey.South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Pic: Rose Sapey.

Councils have been working to come up with the Greater Norwich Local Plan, earmarking where about 40,000 homes could be built over the next two decades.

While the bulk of that development is carried forward from previous plans, work was ongoing over where about 7,500 homes could be acceptable.

A timetable was in place for further consultation and examination of the plan - but the government’s recently announced changes to the planning system and a forthcoming white paper have moved the goalposts.

One of the key changes is a new way of working out housing need, which would dramatically increase how many houses would be needed in Norfolk.

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That would mean 32,000 more homes would need to be allocated out of about 65,000. Council officers said they were sceptical about the figures and the local plan would not bridge that gap.

So, with those significantly higher housing figures, councils had to decide whether to abandon the plan, whether to extend the timetable to take the new figures into account or whether to speed up the process to get the plan finished as soon as possible.

Council officers warned a failure to get a plan adopted could lead to a situation where, in the absence of a document to defend decision-making on, councils turning down developments could end up facing a string of potentially costly appeals.

At a meeting of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership this week, representatives from Norwich, Broadland, South Norfolk and Norfolk County Council voted to speed up the timetable.

The draft Greater Norwich Local Plan includes potential sites for thousands of new homes. Photo: Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council, South Norfolk District CouncilThe draft Greater Norwich Local Plan includes potential sites for thousands of new homes. Photo: Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council, South Norfolk District Council

Shaun Vincent, leader of Broadland Council and partnership chairman, said: “I feel it would be premature to stop our development of the local plan at this stage. I don’t think we know enough about what the government is going to put into the legislation.”

However, South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller said he had “extreme” concern about the “dash for the line”. He said there were still 12 material risks around the plan and that it would be “a mountain to climb” to resolve them rapidly enough.


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