New homes could swamp area - fears

PLANS outlining how many new homes could be built and what the future could look like in Wymondham and Hethersett have been put on show for the first time.

PLANS outlining how many new homes could be built and what the future could look like in Wymondham and Hethersett have been put on show for the first time.

Three thousand new homes are proposed for north-east Wymondham as part of a major development that would create 2,500 jobs, and include two new primary schools together with a dedicated sixth form college and pre-schools, while 1,000 to 4,000 new homes are planned in Hethersett.

In Wymondham councillors have already pledged to fight the greenfield development put forward by London-based planning consultant Barton Willmore, which pre-empts the final approval of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership Joint Core Strategy, which has earmarked 2,200 homes for Wymondham by 2026.

Among those visiting the public exhibition in Wymondham were Ken and Pamela Baker, from Downham Crescent in the town.

Mr Baker said: 'We're not happy. Our immediate reaction is why build homes on lovely countryside. We feel this development could swamp the whole town and take all its character away.'

Martin Wynne, chairman of South Norfolk Council's planning committee, who also attended, said: 'We accept that Wymondham has to grow, but these proposals alone would see a 50pc increase in the number of homes in the town.'

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However, Lee Newlyn, partner at Barton Willmore, said an increased population would regenerate the town centre.

He added: 'The government has said Wymondham needs these homes, and we think it's a good location for it. You cannot put 33,000 new homes in the Norwich area without changing some of the character within that area.'

Meanwhile new development at Hethersett could take the form of a series of hamlets incorporating green areas, a meeting at Hethersett High School was told on Tuesday last week.

The increase in housing is part of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership's Joint Core Strategy for Hethersett and the weekend was organised by John Thompson and Partners on the instructions of the developers Hethersett Land Ltd which is part of the Ptarmigan Land Group.

More than 200 people attended to hear the development group's initial ideas.

A section of the audience continued to lobby against any new development in the village and suggestions that the building 'should go somewhere else' met with applause from some areas.

John Thompson highlighted some of the new ideas that would accompany the building of over 1,000 new homes. These included a new medical centre, the re-location of the village junior school, a new village centre in land off Queen's Road, a new football and sports complex at the back of the existing Village Hall, an improved Park and Ride scheme from Thickthorn, allotments, cycleways and footpaths, a subsidised bus service and a new care home for the elderly.

Mr Thompson said these were all achievable under the present plan and went as far as to mention a more specific figure of 1140 homes.

He explained that the preferred option would be to site these in blocks of up to 100 in small hamlets that would be inter-connected and include open green spaces. A new road around the village would also be built. Mr Thompson added that the building process could take up to 10 years with 100 homes being built each year.

Mr Thompson pointed out that Hethersett was in the ideal place for sustainable growth and he felt the additional facilities would 'strengthen and re-invigorate the village.'

'We very much prefer the idea of a series of hamlets rather than a large cluster of housing. The idea is to provide areas that are all within 10 minutes walking distance of people's daily needs,' he said, adding that he thought the kind of development would be in keeping with the Norfolk character.

Work on planning the development will continue for up to a year and a special Hethersett Village Forum meeting open to everyone will be held in Hethersett Village Hall at 6.30pm on May 13.

Details of the Hethersett plans were outlined at a two-day Community Planning event over the weekend.

Many villagers voiced their concern at the possibility of an influx that will see the population of the village rise by at least 30pc. Others agreed that the best way forward was to work with developers to ensure improved facilities throughout the village.

Many spoke of the 'tremendous drain on resources' that additional development would bring and demanded assurances that facilities and services would be improved.

The weekend discussed existing problems in the village which included traffic congestion, the lack of a village centre and parking, long waiting lists for doctors' appointments, a lack of sports facilities and shopping, sewage and drainage problems, inadequate local roads and village schools already up to capacity.

Those present voiced concern that development would lead to a loss of open space, too much cheaper social housing and the village being subjected to urban development in a rural setting.

The drew up a wish list for improvements that could be part of the deal. These included a new country park, keeping a green belt round the village to separate it from both Wymondham and Norwich, improved transport and road links, providing a real community-based village centre with adequate parking, improving shopping facilities and making the village more eco friendly and sustainable.

Once the Joint Core Strategy has been agreed it will be sent to the Government for testing and will then be examined by an independent inspector later this year. At that point specific areas for land development will be identified in Hethersett and the surrounding area including Little Melton. It is estimated that building could start within the next two to three years.