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Fears over whether Norfolk’s market towns will be able to cope with thousands of new homes

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:38 20 March 2017

Studies are to be carried out in market towns like Wymondham to see if their transport infrastructure is good enough. 
Photo: Bill Smith

Studies are to be carried out in market towns like Wymondham to see if their transport infrastructure is good enough. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2008

Fears that Norfolk’s market towns might not have good enough roads to cope with thousands of new homes have triggered a series of special studies to tackle the potential problem.

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee. Pic: Submitted.Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee. Pic: Submitted.

Council bosses are worried that, with 30,000 new homes due to be built in towns and villages, such as Wymondham, Thetford, Dereham, Long Stratton, Aylsham, Acle and Horsford within decades, pressures will be heaped on road networks.

Almost 190,000 people live in Norfolk’s market towns, according to the last census, which is almost a quarter of the county’s population.

And Norfolk County Council chiefs want to make sure those towns are “future fit”, with transport networks that can support further growth.

They are planning to carry out studies, three or four each year, of specific towns to prioritise what traffic improvements are needed.

Thetford town mayor Terry Jermy.Thetford town mayor Terry Jermy.

That could include:

• Changes to existing roads, junctions and streets

• New roads

• More routes for walking and cycling

Cllr Joe Mooney, Wymondham.Cllr Joe Mooney, Wymondham.

• Intelligent transport systems - to optimise performance of public transport

• Driver information systems to help manage car parking

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “This is about planning for the future. We recognise that most of our market towns are going to have development. We want to talk to them, recognising the transport problems and issues they have now and future issues.”

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: “The studies will be very important because they will bring all local stakeholders together to examine current issues affecting the towns, the future pressures that the towns are likely to face, and to identify a broad range of solutions to these in the short, medium and longer term.”

A programme for the studies will be decided upon in June. Each study would cost £20,000. Council bosses hope that the studies will help with future funding bids to deal with issues.

Bert Bremner, Labour county councillor for Norwich’s University ward, said the scheme was “fantastic”.

Across the border, Suffolk is planning for 70,000 new homes by 2031.

Case Study: Thetford

Controversy raged over future development in Thetford, with legal challenges to the blueprint for development in the town.

The Thetford Area Action Plan centres on building 5,000 homes to the north of the town, and Shadwell Estates launched a legal challenge to Breckland Council’s strategy.

However, the High Court upheld it and permission was granted for the KingsFleet development, complete with a £150m agreement to provide infrastructure and community facilities.

Mayor of Thetford, councillor Terry Jermy, said: “I think everybody accepts there is going to be elements of growth in the town but what most people are concerned about is whether the improvements to infrastructure comes after the growth.

“The studies are a good idea, but the point I made in a committee is having studies planned is all well and good, but what’s really important is to deliver those plans and how are we going to fund it.”

Case Study: Wymondham

Wymondham is due for major expansion between now and 2026, with blueprints for growth planning for at least 2,200 new homes.

And the town is also earmarked to take almost 50 acres of employment land.

Joe Mooney, Wymondham Northfields ward councillor, welcomed the studies of the market towns.

He said: “We have got to have the infrastructure that goes along with the growth.

“It will really affect the roads along the A11 and Thickthorn roundabout, residents will need to cope with the increased traffic.

“I think it is always good to consult the local people, I hope they come up with a plan that will hopefully erase their concerns and gets a system in place that suits motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

“It is not all about car users, there needs to be bus travel and the plan may well include all these things.”

30 comments

  • Rushallchap3, you might, as you ended in saying, 'digress'' but it such an interesting and informative way. Thanks you. Much enjoyed reading this post.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • @marigold- That's an interesting point. The problem is that CIL contributions can be pooled and used for capital funded projects that are geographically remote to the development that is paying the levy. On one hand this is great because it allows more significant projects to be funded, but on the other hand the smaller things that could ease things at a local level are overlooked. I suspect that the great majority of CIL monies received in the area at the moment are being used to fund the NDR. The old contributions system worked in one sense better because the cash had to be spent in the immediate locality, so you could argue that those 'taking the short term pain (in terms of the inconvenience of construction) were getting the long term gain. But, unfortunately, the local authorities were too weak and politically constrained to effectively manage and lever the cash they had to the best effect. An interesting, if slight niche, fact of the old system was that money taken in contributions had to be allocated to a specific project. If after 5 years the local authority hadn't raised all the funding and started the project the authority had to give the developer their contribution money back and the local community received no benefit. This was one of the main drivers to changing to the CIL system; which in the main is positive. But the fact that levy payments can be pooled and used across a larger area does make me question where the benefits are for those most effected by large projects. The other oddity of the CIL is that it's not applicable to affordable housing schemes. That sort of makes sense because it would be the government paying (in a round about way) itself but on the other hand if you have a large affordable housing scheme then there is no contribution to local infrastructure from it. But I digress.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • God alive, Norfolk is beginning to sound awful. How sad.

    Report this comment

    guest

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I guess the question to be asked is how are these local authorities spending The Community Infrastructure Levy, It is there for the roads, schools, health burdons new developments place on areas.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • The expansion of these market towns is unsustainable as will be the likely increase and demands placed upon the local Heritage Assets and Attractions, especially the Norfolk Broads and the North Norfolk Coast.

    Report this comment

    Norfolkbill

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Interesting. £20K for a survey. Dereham town council have already suggested a traffic survey just in Dereham will be £61K. So do you get a discount for doing lots of them or are £20K surveys likely to be as good as the one previously done in Dereham, i.e. Useless? Also interesting that the increases to council taxes both in the percentage per household and the additional numbers of households hasn't seen much if anything done on increasing places in schools, numbers of doctors in surgeries or improvements in traffic roads. So what has that money been spent on? There is as ever much talk from the council offices and very little action (other than approving planning for more houses).

    Report this comment

    spike

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Where exactly will the herd of new people want to go out to? Their nearest City of course, NORWICH. Which is already feeling the strain of the increase in population. Not to mention all the buildingplanned development that Norwich itself will be charging ahead with. The city is already at a standstill with all the tinkering on the roads by the council so what will it be like with another 200,000+ added to the equation. Outdated but should give you an idea http:www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.ukHTMLDocsdvc134_cindex.html btw.. the data from the 2021 consensus will be interesting

    Report this comment

    The_Thinker

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Large new estates are already being put up in Wymondham, the largest of which is the least easily accessible one by road. No thought has gone into this, and the town centre will suffer as people will be forced to shop out of town. There are insufficient car parks in the town to cope as it is. We need more schools, doctors and supermarkets to cater for theses family houses.

    Report this comment

    Stevie Castle

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • jennifer jane, you are right to point out these concerns. We can only hope that a total and balanced view is taken by our Councillors and MPs, who see the problem not as a simple one-solution fits all but with far greater nuance.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I must admit the saying "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted" came to mind when I read this EDP headline. Has the penny finally dropped seeing as most of us have been almost pleading with the powers that be about infrastructure. It is not just the roads, throw hospitals, schools, doctors' surgeries into the mix as well. Thank you Rushallchap3 for diffusing the situation once again with Koenig - I shall look forward to him leaving our shores one day!

    Report this comment

    tree lover

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • We are told that teachers are not keen on moving to Norfolk or Suffolk, social workers do not want to come to region and now I see Open Reach are doing a recruitment drive. Doctors and nurses are in short supply. Shortage of skilled construction workers.What work are all these people who these new homes are being built for do.. I hope it is not commute to Cambridge or London. We want places to be alive not dead all week and just busy at weekends. I understand Stowmarket is so very quiet during the week as many residents commute to London.

    Report this comment

    jennifer jane

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Thanks you, Rushallchap3, that might explain it. Koenig, I sometimes despair of people and their views, you seem to despise them. For that there is no cure or more words. Good luck.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • @weaversway - Or Swiss chum Koenig, has a rather singular and unique view of matters. He's only commenting on these articles, as he explained previously, as he accompanies his boyfriend to these shores on a health tourist trip. Soon enough, hopefully, they'll have had a successful trip and he can head back to the land of toblerone and we can get back to discussing and debating issues and solutions that will have an effect on our lives. I don't think i'd have the inclination or the patience to comment on domestic Swiss politics but this fellow does. I suggest we accept his input with good grace, smiling politely and entirely ignoring it...we'd also do well to remember that the entire population of Switzerland is less than that of London.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Well, koenig, we will agree to disagree, although you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about the massed population of the Midlands and seem to want to turn Norfolk into some sort of retirement rest-home for the overspill from that conurbation. Do not assume I am some died in the wool hick: you have no idea how widely I travel in my work both within the UK and overseas., but I still prefer to take views on facts and not just concepts that my view is paramount. Your vision is not mine, but then all views are welcome. If reason and logic are not the determinate of discussion then maybe I have wasted my time reading Hume, Locke et al and should have instead cultivated a vocabulary of “Get over it” or “End of”, which has now become the currency of much discourse. You still seem to be ignoring the textual matter in my posts but have painted your image of the type of person I am. Good luck with your sledgehammer approach. Obscurus fio, as my favourite poet, Horace said.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • @ weaversway The much needed expansion into Norfolk and similar sparsely populated parts of the UK certainly is not a matter that has been arbitrarily, it is cold clear logic based on the needs of the expanding population of the UK, population distributions and predicted migrations, and demographics. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever about 'bringing people with me' with my observations, what I do want to do is criticise the outdated and unacceptable objection to accepting that expansion of the UK population must result in changes to the narrow minded isolationist mindset of the people who will see their smug selfishness being rightly ignored.

    Report this comment

    koenig

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • If you read my post, koenig, you will see I diplomatically say that I deplore racism in any form. I reiterate we must come to decisions empirically not arbitrarily. Surely that is the logical way. Like it or lump it is not going to bring other people with you. But perhaps you do not want to. Well, that is your decision. The world has changed, yes, but reason and taking into consideration what others want and think, has not.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Should have also said that the piecemeal approach outlined in this article will not truly solve the issues we face. Indeed it is more likely to add to the problem.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Several have already mentioned the increasing problems of not expanding other services and not just the local ones that this article highlights. Hospital places, including the respite places needed to help rehabilitate those who do not need medical care but are not yet fit to cope on their own. Basic utilities such as water supplies do not get a mention nor do other services. Anyone who drives on our roads will know that traffic volumes have increased significantly - it is not just towns that are bursting at the seams. Public transport in rural areas will not answer this situation anymore than building cycle ways will. Be interesting to see where all the new jobs will come from too unless it is expected this will become an increasing retirement area with all the different needs that brings. Last point, the reason for so many new builds is down to increasing population in a country (England) that already has a very high population density.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • @ weaversway - When planning for future population growth areas that are logical to be developed must come first. The Midlands population growth should be catered for Eastwards towards the North Sea coast and existing ports and ports that can be enlarged. Norfolk is relatively sparcely populated so is the obvious choice. Its going to happen indeed it has to happen. The population for Norfolk will have to increase to between 5 to 7 million people by 2025 even though these figures have not (yet) been disclosed. Suffolk will also have to be developed but to cater for population growth in North London, Stevenage, Luton, and other conurbations. The UK has changed over the last 25 years beyond recognition indeed being British has changed, to be British no longer means to be a WASP, increasingly it is to be of mixed ethnicity and of a number of cultures. Most people living in the backwaters such as Norfolk simply have no real ides of what has taken place and is increasingly doing so and will just have to accept the changing UK and adapt to it.

    Report this comment

    koenig

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I will address the points you make, but firstly let me decry your attitude. Your ‘Live with it’ is just plain dismissive. Although I deplore what is called in the vernacular ‘populism and the attitude which owes in description much to that Greek solider Xenophon and his book Anabasis, I also believe that telling people to “Live with it” instead of listening to concerns and their point of view is not conducive to logical discussion. Now to the matter at hand. As far as I can tell the whole system is crude in policy. Central government comes up with a figure for x million homes, then arbitrarily divides the country up. But this does not take into account the infrastructure or where people want to live - i.e. employment, schools etc. Saying that Norfolk is empty therefore fill it up is like saying the Welsh Hills or Dartmoor are un-populated, so let’s put people there. Surely there must in political policy a better coordinated and reasoned way of coming to decisions, and that surely is taking a rational and balanced view of all facts. As has been said it is government, local and national, who set the policy and it to them we must look to take this far wider view and not just build to meet quotas.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Schools are delivered by the county council, not developers. Developers discuss their plans with children's services and the demand is modelled and extensions or new schools constructed once the demand is there. That must the correct approach. It would be a shocking waste of money to build a new school at the start of a housing scheme and for it to sit practically empty until the homes are constructed and occupied. With a few pupils rattling around and not enough for full classes in every form group it would be an outrage and waste of tax payers money. As for doctors surgeries; these are private businesses and if there is a need or a business case then one will open. A developer can no more 'build' a doctors surgery than they can an opticians or a garden centre. The concern shown here would be better directed at those who can implement the requests. The housing developers (the clue is the the name) are doing their bit by building the houses. The questions and strategy for ancillary infrastructure rest with local and national government. The short answer to the headline is; yes, market towns can cope with thousands of new homes.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • DOCTORS & SCHOOLS! DOCTORS & SCHOOLS! DOCTORS & SCHOOLS! DOCTORS & SCHOOLS! When will these people get the message! Grrrrr!

    Report this comment

    Hoppy

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Surgeries and schools are not the responsibility of any housing developer. It is up to the appropriate authorities to supply these. That is what we pay our taxes for. Expecting them to build these would only make the already high prices for property even worse.

    Report this comment

    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • There is no alternative other than expand housing into East Anglia, especially Norfolk. The population of the UK will soon hit 70,000,000 plus and people must be housed. Norfolk is sparsely populated and that must change. The expansion of population in the Midlands must be accommodated in addition to the ageing population of the Midlands must be able to move away in order for younger people to be housed there. Norfolk is a part of the UK, you are facing a UK wide problem, Norfolk must be part of the solution. The world has changed tremendously over the last 25 years more than any time in the recent past. Populations are moving, towns, cities, indeed countries are changing. Living in glorious isolation in twee little villages is no longer an option. Live with it.

    Report this comment

    koenig

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Why oh why allow the developers to build without putting the infrastructure in place first! Not enough clout on our weak councils side. If there are not enough good examples here, go to France where the councils set the agenda and make sure that the work it is carried through, no arguments, yes we can learn a thing or two even from the French!

    Report this comment

    Colin

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, .... the man that brought the automated loos to Harleston £130k spent and we know how that saga ended. to be replaced with the old original toilets . And he wants us to trust him with millions of pounds of spending on infrastructure....

    Report this comment

    angrychef

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • All of the points made below are valid and important but the planners must also urgently address the density of new developments. We have the smallest living space in new builds than any other country in Europe. Cramming people in to high density \ high profit developments is a disgrace. Young families deserve better with space to grow and thrive rather than living in the crammed-together rabbit hutches that greedy developers call 'aspirational ' homes. Councils need to address this problem as a matter of urgency before the county if covered in modern day ghettos.

    Report this comment

    Mr. Grouchy

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Of course our towns and villages can't cope and many of them have already been completely spoilt. No regard is given at all to the strain on our local infrastructures, doctors, hospitals, schools, transport and what was a lovely green part of the country is fast disappearing under concrete

    Report this comment

    McCord

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • but why are developers allowed to cram all these poor quality homes in without first being made to build schools and medical centres, it,s local government at fault here.

    Report this comment

    ted

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Perfectly valid fears. Its not just the roads that wont cope however. These developers cram as many houses in as they can without a thought for stretching services such as Doctors, NHS, Police etc

    Report this comment

    Birch1

    Monday, March 20, 2017

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