'Disappointing' vision for expanding town is questioned

What makes Wymondham work so well?
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Wymondham Town Council's neighbourhood plan has been criticised by South Norfolk Council - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Frustrated council leaders have questioned a 'disappointing' document that sets out how the largest town in south Norfolk should expand.

Wymondham Town Council submitted their neighbourhood plan to South Norfolk Council (SNC), setting out how it would like to see the area develop between now and 2038.

While the neighbourhood plan does not set out specific areas for houses to be built, it does provide policies for SNC to follow when determining planning applications.

The plan includes nine policies, addressing issues such as the ‘vibrancy’ of the town centre by improving lighting, planting and seating. 

It also includes support for reducing the width of roads to make a more pedestrian-friendly area and for new development being accompanied by 'social infrastructure' such as GPs or schools.

The town has surged in size in recent years, burgeoning from 10,000 in 1991 to almost 17,000 today.

John Fuller, the leader of the council, criticised the plan, arguing there was very little to help guide SNC’s development committee. 

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“It is Wymondham’s plan, I think Wymondham deserves a little bit better than this," he said.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Picture: ROSE SAPEY

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller - Credit: Rose Sapey

“Wymondham faces a core dilemma, it will grow - should that growth be to the south or the north?

"Close to the railway, the town centre and employment areas or should it break out into the open countryside? That dilemma isn’t explored at all.  

“For years I’ve heard from members of the town council how important it is that land at Browick Road is reserved for commercial use rather than residential. The plan is silent on that matter.” 

Lisa Neal, the vice-chairman of the committee, echoed Mr Fuller's comments, branding the document “disappointing”.

“There’s no meat on it to tell you which areas they feel need to be protected," said Ms Neal. "Where's the gap between Wymondham and Hethersett? There’s no mention of that.

"There’s so much in here that’s missing.” 

However, an SNC officer said he did not expect the cabinet's responses.

He said the plan had raised fewer concerns than other towns' plans.

He warned the town council could go to the secretary of state if it felt it had been treated unfairly but said the risk was "small".

On Tuesday, SNC's cabinet rejected the officer's recommendation to move the plan to consultation and independent examination.

Instead, it called for it to be sent back for two months, during which time there could be "extended dialogue".