Coltishall prison plan back on track

Plans to build a 500-strong Category C prison on part of the former airbase at RAF Coltishall have been put back on track by government officials.Council officers in north Norfolk have received a second planning application for the Scottow prison in the last few days.

Major housing is still on the cards at the former airbase at RAF Coltishall - and the size of proposed development is bigger than ever at a staggering 12,000 homes.

Within days of government officials putting plans to build a 500-strong Category C prison on part of the base back on track, it emerged that the now infamous Scottow housing plan had made it on to another development list.

Although the new 12,000 proposal is not now being promoted under the controversial eco-town banner, it remains touted as 'zero carbon' in paperwork seen by the News.

This week the East of England Regional Assembly released papers looking forward to 2031 and what homes could be built where.

Effectively a developers' wish list, the papers have revealed expansion plans for communities across the region.

One of them is the Coltishall plan, submitted by Barton Willmore on behalf of Richard Davies' Coltishall Group.

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None of the projects is set in stone, but their very existence has already caused outrage.

The proposals will be fed into a review of the East of England Plan, also known as the regional spatial strategy.

The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU) recently suggested Norfolk will need to build an extra 67,000 homes by 2031, on top of 74,700 extra houses already in the pipeline over the next 18 years.

Paul Thomas, spokesman for the Coltishall Eco Town Action Group (Cetag), had a simple first reaction: “Good grief. We were always cautious in our reaction to the eco-town planning coming off the government shortlist, so hearing this has come back on a different list is hugely disappointing, if not completely surprising.

“But to discover it is even bigger is dreadful and quite incredible.

“The size is both a shock and ridiculous for a site of that size and that nature. I'm frankly appalled. In no way could we feel that this site is suitable, for umpteen reasons - transport, infrastructure - all sorts of reasons. It's a 100pc 'no' from us.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “We were utterly shocked and dismayed at the possibility of up to 10,000 homes there under the eco-town proposal.

“For it to come back in this context with even more houses leaves me completely gobsmacked.”

Ian Shepherd, planning policy co-ordinator at the Norfolk branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), said the new figures clearly needed rethinking.

t Council officers in north Norfolk have received a second planning application for the Scottow prison.

The heavyweight application has not been fully checked through, so is not yet available for public viewing.

The Ministry of Justice has been forced into making the new application to convert the old airmen's quarters into cells after making a mistake or mistakes in the original application, prompting a judicial review from prospective eco-town developer Richard Davies.

Council officers said the second application will see the process of consultation begin again, meaning people who want to object or support the plan will have to write letters again and parish councils will have to resubmit their views.