Stop Norwich Urbanisation (SNUB), a local community campaign group based in Norfolk, have today issued a legal challenge against the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) issued by Broadland District Council (BDC) and the other local authorities in the county who make up the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP). The JCS proposes to develop over 30,000 houses in and around Norwich including the proposed Eco town at Rackheath.
The chair of SNUB Stephen Heard said, “We have today, on behalf of the thousands of local residents who objected to the proposed development in the North East growth triangle, instructed leading environmental Solicitors, Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law from Cambridge, to submit a legal challenge on the grounds, among others, that BDC have not conformed to the relevant requirements of Article 5(1) of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.”
The full details of the Claim can be seen at www.snubcampaign.org
We would now expect the new Council following the district elections on the 5th May to take this opportunity to withdraw the current JCS in order for them to start again with a viable and accurate forecast of housing need in the area. Once that housing need, as opposed to housing want, is determined and independently verified by experts we would expect to see a reduction in the number of houses required over the next 15 years. Our hope then is that a number of alternative solutions would be placed before the electorate in an open and transparent consultation. Furthermore we would expect all of the alternatives to be assessed to the same level in order for the public to make an informed decision and choice about the provision of future housing needs and for the Council to listen to and act on the Communities wishes rather than working hand in glove with developers.
Our desire is that this would result in the current and future population of the district being housed in a sensible and considered way with a dispersed strategy providing fresh investment into existing communities, maintaining what little food producing land we have left here in Norfolk and protecting the countryside as we know it.
Stephen Heard went on to say “We are encouraged by the recent success of the Save our Historic Newmarket campaign against Forest Heath District Council in neighbouring Suffolk as they were able to get the High Court to quash the Core Strategy that threatened the unique character of Newmarket and its considerable horse-racing industry”.
It is regretful that we have had to take this step however we feel that this was necessary as BDC have consistently failed to take any notice of the local residents in the original JCS consultation, the strength of feelings at public meetings, petitioners in their thousands and other consultations like the proposed Exemplar development at Rackheath. In addition BDC members were aware when they decided to proceed with the JCS last year that there was a considerable risk of a legal challenge yet they chose, on the advice of unelected Officers, to proceed knowing that leading Barristers had publicly stated that the JCS was and always will be legally unsound. NOTES TO EDITORS
Stop Norwich Urbanisation (SNUB) is a local campaigning community group formed in 2008 by local residents in and around the North East of Norwich and the surrounding Communities. The group has the support of over 3,000 residents and Parish Councils who have campaigned against the creeping urbanisation of Norwich into the North East of the City taking the urban sprawl right up to the boundaries of the Norfolk Broads and removing hundreds of acres of prime food producing agricultural land from the UK food chain.
The group is chaired by Stephen Heard who was shortlisted as national finalist for the SMK Campaigner Awards 2010 in the Local Campaigner category www.smk.org.uk
Councillors from Broadland, Norwich, and South Norfolk Councils adopted the Joint Core Strategy on 22nd March 2011. The Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) prepared the JCS. By taking this decision, the planning authorities in the area have decided that the JCS and the principles it sets out will be a legally binding framework within which the area will develop over the next 15 years. Details can be found at http://www.gndp.org.uk/our-work/joint-core-strategy/
Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law can be contacted at:
19B Victoria Street
Cambridge CB1 1JP
Tel. (01223) 328933
Fax. (01223) 301308
Stephen Heard on 01603 722581 or 07796 050108 or Nicky Richards on 01603 722101
Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action GroupPlanning Inspector Calls for Study of Alternatives toNorwich Northern Distributor Road
Press release – 27 February 2011
The Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group (NNTAG) (1) say that the Planning Inspector’s report into the Greater Norwich Joint Core Strategy (2) is a positive step in the right direction in their campaign against a Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) in favour of a sustainable transport plan.
In his report, the Inspector expresses doubt whether a NDR ‘will be delivered at all’ and has amended the Strategy to require the testing of interim or alternative transport schemes to a Norwich Northern Distributor Road in an Area Action Plan which will draw up a masterplan for an urban extension of 10,000 new dwellings to the north-east of Norwich.
Denise Carlo, Chair of NNTAG said:
“Environmental groups and the developers put forward separate proposals for single carriageway inner link roads as part of an integrated package. We are confident that alternative solutions will be found as developers do not want to spend money on a £130 million four-lane outer orbital NDR.
We are also pleased to see firm proposals in the Strategy for a network of Bus Rapid Transit corridors and Core Bus Routes. This is an outcome of strong lobbying by NNTAG, CPRE Norfolk and Green Party County Councillors which led the Department for Transport to make delivery of sustainable transport a condition for NDR Programme Entry, a status which was withdrawn following the Spending Review.”For further information, please contact Denise Carlo on 07904 187352.Notes for Editors
1. The Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group is an umbrella grouping of local environment/transport groups working for sustainable transport and land use planning.
2. The Inspector’s Report was released on Friday 25 February 2011 following an Examination in Public into the Greater Norwich Joint Core Strategy in November/December. The link to the Inspector’s Report is here.http://www.gndp.org.uk/content/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2011/02/Report-into-the-Examination-of-the-Joint-Core-Strategy-for-Broadland-Norwich-and-South-Norfolk.pdf
The JCS covers the period from 2001 to 2026 and would increase the Norwich Policy Area by 37,000 dwellings. The Inspector declared the JCS ‘sound’ but made a number of changes including the change to policy wording for a NDR.
This is the second “New Year” message that I have, as Chair of Stop Norwich Urbanisation, penned and just like the previous one at the beginning of 2010 we have during the last 12 months not seen any sod being turned in the headlong pursuit by Broadland District Council and others to concrete over swathes of productive agricultural land to provide inappropriate housing.
Does this mean that our campaigning has been successful? Well we take our reassurances from the public meetings we held at the beginning of 2010 where once again the local residents overwhelmingly indicated their support for what we are doing. Whilst we may well be seen as an “irritant” by some there is no doubt that there is a grudging respect for what we have achieved as witnessed by the wide variety of visitors to our website which, thanks to Salhouse Computers for their free support, has gone from strength to strength over the year.
Indeed our whole campaigning was recognised in a national campaigning competition sponsored by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (www.smk.org.uk
) where I was on the final shortlist of three in the national community campaigner of the year category. This recognition is a great acknowledgement to all of the Core team of members who meet every two weeks to ensure that the campaign remains in the forefront of local residents minds. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all of their hard work and support over the last 12 months; they are a formidable team and I feel very humble to be their spokesperson.
I also need to thank the 3,196 local residents who have signed our petitions, which have now been presented to Keith Simpson MP so that he can advise the new Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) of the strength of feeling of local residents. This direct feedback is important as we saw a change of government mid year and the new coalition government seem to be indicating that no new developments are to be agreed unless the local community say they want it! Whilst this seems to be music to our ears the core message has been somewhat diluted by a mixture of contradictory messages from the ministerial team at DCLG. Nevertheless the cancellation of regional housing targets, the ideas and concepts behind the Big Community and the localism agenda seem to reinforce our own strategy, which was refreshed and published during the year.
There will of course be the opportunity to see a change in local government during 2011 as Broadland District Council, and others, holds elections and we look forward to the debate on the hustings. This council and the others who form the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) have not covered themselves in glory over the last 12 months and their arrogance in ignoring the local residents views is both staggering and downright rude. They demonstrated this arrogance at the various inspections of the Joint Core Strategy carried out by the Planning Inspectors over the last year and have chosen to even ignore recommendations from the Inspector when he suggested for example that their was no reason why the meetings of the GNDP should not be open to members of the public; they are still closed despite this.
Indeed the Examination in Public of the Joint Core Strategy was probably the defining event of the year. The team were present every day and spoke on most if not all of them. This level of commitment from dedicated volunteers demonstrates the strength of feeling and I know that the Planning Inspector was grateful for our input.
The year has also seen a growing relationship between similar community groups and us across the county who are all representing their local communities and residents on a wide range of issues. In particular we have the found the support of CPRE and NNTAG extremely helpful and the few enlightened locally elected members who have been overtly and sometimes covertly supportive is also very welcome; we wish them all well over the next 12 months.
Our own cause has also been reinforced by the anonymous donation of a substantial amount, which allowed us to employ the services of a local PR organisation for advice and guidance. We found this input extremely useful as we developed our forthcoming strategy and future plans and we thank our benefactor for this very practical support.
We are entering new territory over the next 12 months as the pressures build for key decisions to be made around the funding for the Northern Distributor Road (NDR), the associated Postwick Hub and of course the decision of the Planning Inspector on the “soundness” of the Joint Core Strategy. We will also be faced with several planning applications that will require our attention and we will need to work hard if we are to represent the local residents views. Lets not forget that we were, in 2010, instrumental in getting the planning application for Dakenham Hall Barns thrown out by the Planning Committee at BDC. We must not however underestimate the task and we will vow to remain vigilant on behalf of the local community.
Chair 11th Jan 2011
Stephen Heard, Chairman of Stop Norwich Urbanisation met local Broadland MP, Keith Simpson in London yesterday to hand over a petition with more than 3,200 signatures from local residents opposed to the inappropriate development proposed of the NE Norwich Growth Triangle.
This development and the road infrastructure proposed would particularly affect the villages of Rackheath, Salhouse, Thorpe End and Little and Great Plumstead and it was the residents of these villages who were particularly keen to sign the petition to get their objections recorded and brought to the attention of the government and the wider public.
An independent television company, Spectacle TV was keen to cover the event and filmed Stephen Heard interviewing Keith Simpson and then filmed a separate interview with Stephen himself.
It is important that local residents get their views known as Broadland District Council have resolutely chosen to ignore the objections of the local community. We hope Keith Simpson will now speak on behalf of the community and make our objections known to ministers. Surely this is what the Big Society is all about and the government now has a chance to prove that they are listening to what local people say and to act accordingly. Otherwise they will be no better than Broadland District Council and the Greater Norwich Development Partnership who merely pay lip service to consultation when in reality they just plough ahead with what they want to do.
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NNTAG Press Release
The Department for Transport announcement postponing the decision on NDR funding to the end of 2011 means that the Greater Norwich Development Partnership will go into the Examination in Public into growth plans for Norwich, starting on 9 November, without any funding guarantee for a £127 million NDR. Given that the GNDP has made its growth plans dependent on a NDR, the strategy is at risk of being found unsound by the Planning Inspectors. NNTAG would not be surprised if the GNDP was to withdraw its plans rather than risk the strategy being found unsound. This gives the public a clear run to press for a different way of developing a future strategy for the Norwich Area based on openess and public participation.
A week ago today the Broadland Land Group completed their Charrette process in which they put forward proposals for the construction of housing across the vast majority of Racecourse Plantation together with very substantial areas of Belmore & Brown's Plantations'.
Those of you who were at the first meeting, and the Town Council meeting that followed it will recall the strength of feeling put forward by the overwhelming majority of people who attended, this resulted in Thorpe Town council unanimously voting against the developers proposals.
Five days later, one week ago today, the final presentation was given. Andres Duany spoke for nearly one and a half hours without taking questions. In addition to local residents the audience included several developers who support the Group’s plans and members of Andres Duany’s team. Some of the audience were grateful for the presentation, and even voiced their appreciation for being consulted on the proposals.
However, in spite of Charrette, the fact remains that the Broadland Land Group’s proposals will lead to the destruction of a beautiful woodland habitat that many of us have grown to value, if not love. A place that enriches our homes and community and provides our wildlife with a rare refuge from the concrete sprawl that increasingly threatens it.
Thorpe St Andrews is not the first community to experience a Charrette lead by Andres Duany and his team from DPZ.
Duany himself spoke about the town of Tornagrain near Inverness, he was keen to emphasis the public consultation and support he had received in respect of this proposed development which would accommodate over 10,000 people. However, this isn’t the entire picture. For example the Inverness Courier on the 6th September 2006 ran the headline “Hostility to Plan for New Town” the article continues“Opposition to plans for a new community on the eastern outskirts of Inverness is growing as a unique consultation scheme gets under way.
Moray Estates, which is behind the proposals for thousands of new homes on a greenfield site at Tornagrain, is being accused of presenting the project as "a done deal" even though a planning application has not yet been submitted”.
The story was even covered on Channel 4 News who ran with a report on the 6th September 2006 that was entitled “Truman Show Town Opposed in Scotland” and reported that “Opposition is mounting over plans to build a new town in northern Scotland, designed by a Hollywood architect”.
Following Tornagrain, which has yet to go ahead, the town of Lochgelly in Scotland went through the very same process earlier this year, here are a few headlines from their community website :
In their final article on the Charrette, and the proposals that would result in 1,750 houses being built on the countryside next to their town, the local people of Lochgelly ask “We have one question for Fife Council with regards to the Lochgelly Charrette; If the Lochgelly Charrette was considered successful, why is the majority of the Lochgelly community referring to the charrette as the Lochgelly Charade?".
- 8th February 2010 - Lochgelly Charrette
- 1st March 2010 - Lochgelly Charrette – An opportunity to have your say?
- 8th March 2010 - Lochgelly Charrette – Details in the Small Print
- 29th April 2010 - Failure of Lochgelly Charrette Recognised
Throughout the Charrette, Duany and his team said they were interested in the views of the people who live in Thorpe, and those who neighbour the woods. However earlier this year, in front of an audience of journalists at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge Massachusetts, Duany put forward the case that the planning process needed to be reformed as it has been usurped by the public, and especially by those people who neighbour the site of the proposed development. He argued consultation should not be with the public in general and especially the locals, instead it should consist of a controlled consultation with a selected group of local citizens, he stated that if this isn’t done the process is taken over by "a bunch of little mobs, invited in by idiot public planners."
Duany has been criticised by members of his own profession.
The April edition of the Architects Journal published an article entitled “Scottish architects fry new urbanist Duany” it stated that“American new urbanist Andres Duany has sparked protests from Scottish architects after alleging the country had not built any housing to be proud of since 1945”.
In the article Duany’s position is criticised by fellow architects as being “ill informed”, Peter Wilson, director of Edinburgh Napier University’s Wood Studio, said Duany’s ‘twee way of viewing Scotland’ was to blame. ‘He does all these charrettes at a great expense and then expects everything to look like small Scottish town Dunkeld’ In Thorpe’s case for Dunkeld read Burnham Market.
The above shows that the Charrette process is being cynically used by developers as a means to convince local people that opposing a development would be futile, that the proposal is a ‘done deal’ and that if the local people don’t work with the developer they may end up with something far worse.
However this is a Charade. The truth is that in all these cases, and especially in the case of Thorpe St Andrew, the developers, Broadland Land Group, have NO permission to build on these woods. That it is not a done deal, in fact Broadland District Council have identified these woods as a County Wildlife Site and as a result Broadland’s Local Plan states that any “Development that would significantly affect the wildlife interest of local nature conservation importance, including County Wildlife Sites and Ancient Woodlands identified by English Nature, or the value of regionally important Geological/geomorphical sites, will not be permitted”.
In addition the Greater Norwich Development Partnership Green Infrastructure Strategy identifies these two plantations as core areas for biodiversity.
Our local councillors have opposed these plans and our local MP Chloe Smith has written to Broadland District Council’s planning department to draw their attention to the strong local opposition to these proposals.
The destruction of these woods is not a done deal, the local people of Thorpe, who Andres Duany may view as a ‘little mob’, can stop this development and save the woods and its rich wildlife for today and for future generations.
If you haven’t already done so please write to your local councillors, their details can be accessed via the links below, and our local MP. Please tell everybody you know about the threat to our woods and how they can be saved.
Broadland District Council
Thorpe St Andrew North West
John Fisher http://www.broadland.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/councillors.aspx?id=895
Ian Mackie http://www.broadland.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/councillors.aspx?id=1277
Shaw, Nigel http://www.broadland.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/councillors.aspx?id=925
Thorpe St Andrew South East
Kim Davis-Claydon http://www.broadland.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/councillors.aspx?id=1278
Suzanne Hayes http://www.broadland.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/councillors.aspx?id=8460
Graham Walker http://www.broadland.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/councillors.aspx?id=1279
MP Chloe Smith
Lochgelly Community Website
Channel 4 News
At a packed public meeting called by Thorpe St Andrew Town Council at the village hall on Wed 7th July 2010, it was made clear that the strength of public opposition to the plans to develop Belmore and Racecourse Plantations into Belmore Park
is huge. The Broadland Land Group, alias Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, were left in no doubt that the development is not wanted in any shape or form. Offers from the public to set up a Friends of the Woods group to help financially and to physically maintain the woods were not met with the delight one would expect. The trustees, Barney Mayhew and Justin Meath Baker were upfront that their aim was to make a profit from some development of the woods iin return for handing a percentage of the woods over to the public to secure its long term future.
The public were urged to contribute to the Charrette by dropping in on one of the meetings being held this week. Comments may also be submitted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Thorpe Town Council must now consider it's official view of the proposed development but Cllrs Mackie and Cllr Newbury led by speaking out against the proposals.
The meeting ended with an agreement by the Trust to reschedule another public meeting later in the year. Watch this space...
SNUB held an open meeting in Jubilee Hall on Saturday 27th February to provide the facts surrounding the Joint Core Strategy, the proposed Rackheath Eco-town and the Northern Distributor Route. Factual information has been less than forthcoming from Broadland District Council, who continue to ignore objections to the plans from five parish councils, almost 4000 residents and Government ministers alike. A superb turn out from local residents, parliamentary candidates and parish council officers saw standing room only as the meeting began.
Stephen Heard, SNUB chairman, welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the first speaker, David Hastings, who was previously a Councillor for the wards of Wroxham, Rackheath and Salhouse for 17 years, four of them as Leader of Broadland District Council, two as Finance Chairman and two years as Vice Chairman.
Mr. Hastings has lived in Salhouse for fifty four years and spoke of his fears regarding the situation in Broadland today. He expressed his sorrow that our current district councilors, no longer seem to represent the views of their residents but seem to toe their party line and that "Planners are running wild" within Broadland District Council with officers taking the lead, as opposed to the elected members. He told the meeting that 4,600 acres of food producing land has been identified for development within the North East Growth Triangle alone, despite warnings from Government Scientific Officers that by 2020, our need for food will double and farm land will be vital to produce food to feed the growing population. There were also warnings that up to 78,000 houses could eventually be built in high density developments as planners and developers form relationships that in Mr Hastings time on the council, would have been severely frowned on, if not deemed illegal. He went on to say that the President of the planner's organisation, last year invited the proposed Rackheath Eco town developer Paul Knowles to be his guest of honour at their Annual dinner. Concerns were raised by Mr Hastings that functions were becoming more and more lavish at the tax payers expense with free lunches and drinks provided for those invited and the opportunity to raise questions and concerns limited, if not removed completely at events hosted by Broadland District Council. Doubt was also cast upon a recent thermal imaging survey carried out by Broadland District Council, costing thousands of pounds, again at tax payer’s expense. In this survey, a large building in Rackheath was highlighted as the worse offender for emitting the biggest heat loss. This building was a warehouse belonging to Mr Hastings' son and had never been centrally heated, proving that the technology used was severely flawed! Broadland District Council's broken promises to residents were also mentioned. They promised "No infrastructure, no housing" and "If there is strong local opposition, we will not go ahead” thus condemning the council for allowing the developer to begin building some of the housing by the end of 2010, despite the Norfolk and Norwich hospital being on black alert most days of the year and the lack of water in the area. Mr Hastings finished his speech by confirming that plans for the Norfolk Hub are very much alive and still in consideration despite residents being misinformed that they have been dropped.
Stephen Heard reassured the meeting that SNUB are not opposed to the building of new homes but are opposed to inappropriate development on Greenfield sites and valuable farmland, in areas that do not have the sufficient infrastructure. He urged attendees that it is still possible to fight the plans and that they are by no means guaranteed to proceed.
Next to speak was James Frost, a guest speaker from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who has expressed great interest in working closely with SNUB against the developments planned. James gave an interesting account of the work that CPRE do, explaining that they are a national environmental body, with regional offices, who try to influence planning decisions at the highest level. They encourage well planned and appropriate developments that involve consultation with the local communities. He went on to say that CPRE have been fighting housing proposals in Norfolk at national, regional and county level for many years since they became aware of plans for Norfolk five years ago. They have a comprehensive knowledge of the planning process and aim to scrutinize planning documents intensely, to ensure they are legal, ethical and appropriate for the areas designated. James was keen to point out that the "eco community" planned for Rackheath is "Just another big housing estate built by a large developer" and that all houses will be built to a higher standard than that planned in Rackheath in the near future. The CPRE believe that if the Government were serious about reducing the carbon footprint within housing stock, they would significantly increase the grants available to homeowners to retro fit their homes with renewable energy technologies and carry this out on all local authority home already in existence, as well as applying higher standards to all new housing. He also stated his belief that residents living in the eco town in Rackheath will get up in the morning like any other homeowners, get in their car and drive to work! After all the council have admitted that the eco town is dependent on the NDR anyway! James ended by saying that CPRE regularly have open days for people to see "real eco homes" that use energy saving technologies and urged people to attend if possible as well as finding out more about CPRE and the work they do on their website www.cprenorfolk.org.uk. He confirmed that CPRE will work closely with SNUB in the future against the plans and supported what we are trying to achieve.
Richard Williams, an executive member of SNUB was next to speak about the 1.2 billion pound Joint Core Strategy, the North East Growth Triangle and the NDR. Richard told the meeting how he had recently spoken at an extraordinary meeting at BDC objecting to the JCS as it totally differs to the Local Parish Plan. He advised that the consultation on the JCS was conducted so poorly that very few members of the public responded. Of those that did respond, the majority were against the document but the council ignored this consultation and proceeded with the same document that they just reprinted anyway. After the council promised "No infrastructure, no housing" Mr Williams pointed out that the NDR is not due to be built until 2015 but the developers plan to start building the eco town at the end of 2010. The NDR is by no means certain but the housing will already have been built, meaning the promises were hollow indeed. He also explained that the Government were responsible for selecting Rackheath as a site for an "eco town" giving local residents no choice. On showing the meeting the first maps available to them of the proposed North East Growth triangle, a shocked murmur was heard around the room, as it became apparent that this area is larger that the area within the outer ring road of Norwich. Slides showing the proposed route for the NDR and it's junctions at Postwick, Plumstead Road and the Wroxham Road were also a shock, as Mr Williams explained that the Plumstead Road flyover is 20 feet high with a woefully inadequate 50cm bund, supposed to reduce traffic noise. Alf Townley representing Thorpe End division of the Great and Little Plumstead's Parish Council revealed that plans to close Broad Lane between the Sole and Heel pub and the railway crossing were only uncovered after a local resident requested that the council consider closing Broad Lane. This information was not made readily available to the Parish council or local residents publically, again illustrating the cloak and dagger approach from the council towards keeping the public informed. Plum stead Parish council have refused to endorse the closure until they have more information regarding traffic projections for the NDR radial roads. The Postwick Junction has recently been subject to a call for a public inquiry and NNTAG have been successful in drawing this to minister's attention, resulting in Norfolk County Council being told to suspend plans whilst an inquiry is considered. Mr Williams also went on to highlight that Norfolk County Council have been told by the Department of Transport that the funding for the NDR is totally dependent on them providing and implementing a package of sustainable transport, which they have not yet considered!
Stewart Lindsay, also an executive member of SNUB spoke about the proposed Eco-town advising that it was clear from the information provided from the council that they really do not have a clue about the key issues of an eco town and this has exposed the scheme as a total con. Stewart told the meeting that Gordon Brown dreamt up a UK eco town ethos after visiting Stockholm’s Hammarby area where a failed Olympic bid resulted in a real eco community being successfully created. The site is close to Stockholm, meaning that residents can use bicycles and the excellent train network to commute to work. Unfortunately, Gordon Brown chose to site his "eco-towns" in the countryside, far away from established places of employment. Hammarby also has an excellent system for using residents rubbish to power the community. As BDC plan to build their eco community to only building standard 4, by 2016 the houses already built will need to be retro fitted to bring them up to the standard required for all new builds in any location nationally. Another slide showing the vast area designated for the eco town, shocked the meeting clearly showing that the existing Rackheath village will be dwarfed by comparison. The density of housing proposed will be 47 houses per hectare compared with the current 19 per hectare currently being built in other developments. Stewart's humorous speech went on to expose that there are no plans for any proper healthcare provision for over 5000 houses, with an average occupancy of 2 adults and 2.4 children, until 2025. In the words of Phil Kirby, Broadland District Council's chief planning officer, "There is no plan B"
The meeting concluded with SNUB chairman Stephen Heard advising that SNUB are considering fielding a candidate in the forthcoming elections together with the possibility of gathering support for a referendum in Norwich to have an elected Mayor, to champion the views of the communities, as the council no longer seem to consider this their duty.
The business event held at Sprowston Manor Hotel on the 10th February 2010 had a threefold purpose:
1. Update local businesses about the eco-community development.
2. Inform local businesses about the opportunities that the eco-community development and the range of “eco-green” services and products needed, will present to the private sector.
3. Through round table discussions, collect the views of local businesses with regard to what they would like to see for businesses as part of the development and also what key issues, should be considered in advance of and during the development.
The key messages written down at the round table discussions have been collated and are presented in this review document. These elements will be drafted into an “Economic Business Plan” for the eco-community development and will accompany and inform any submission made by the developer for planning approval. A draft of the Economic Business Plan will be circulated to local businesses for comment before final publication in the summer.
Since the event in February, Broadland Council has received a constant stream of local businesses that either have a product or service to promote for the development programme or would like to move to, or set up a new venture at Rackheath, as part of the eco-community development. Similarly, there have been numerous enquiries from both suppliers and prospective relocation businesses from outside Norfolk interested in supplying into the development or moving into an eco-community commercial estate. All these businesses will receive updates on the progress of the development. However, a key message from the round table discussions, as noted below, is a desire that local businesses should benefit from the development programme and this aspiration will be clearly embodied in the Business Plan.
If you would like to add any supplementary comments please email them to:
email@example.com or forward your comments by post to: The Business Support & Leisure Department, Broadland District Council, Thorpe Lodge, 1, Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, NR7 0DU1 Enterprise & Sustainability
- Don’t forget the existing Rackheath Industrial Estate and direct both support and potential inward investment to the estate.
- Use local suppliers, contractors and services whenever possible during the Eco-Community development.
- Both large and small businesses should be encouraged to locate to Rackheath.
- Endeavour to ensure that new businesses have an “eco”, “green” “sustainable” proposition as part of their service or product range, as well as a committed desire to operate in an energy efficient and sustainable way.
- There should be support for start-up and new businesses with “eco”, “green” and “sustainable” credentials.
- There should be some commercial premises integrated into the residential areas in addition to retail outlets.
- There should be room for some social enterprise businesses within the development.
- A Visitors Centre is important to help focus attention on the eco-business community, and support the cluster development of more eco-businesses.
- Business units need to have flexibility in size and arrangement affording “business growing space” - offices, workshops and showrooms
- Rackheath should be visually attractive for people to live and work there. It must also be able to be promoted as a place where houses and premises are cheaper to run.
Other comments under this heading to be considered
2 Employment and Skills
- Could Rackheath have its own “High Street” with a full range of local shops; butcher, baker etc? The community needs a “heart/centre”.
- Some small units to share renewable energy supplies and utilise water re-use technologies.
- The Eco-Community could be a significant tourist attraction to add to the existing local tourist offer and support B&B’s, local shops, restaurants and pubs etc.
- Water resources are an issue across Norfolk. How can Rackheath attain water neutrality and what will this mean for businesses?
- Make the Eco-Community a hub or centre of excellence for training and managing new technologies.
- There is a need to educate children, adults, businesses and customers with regard to environmentally sustainable ways of living and working.
- A full range of employment is needed for young and old as well as skilled, unskilled and highly technical.
- Rackheath can benefit from exporting “eco” expertise to other developments and growth areas.
- Better local services for businesses EG: Post Office opening late for franked mail from businesses.
- Match existing and future skills needs with the development and with “eco-businesses”.
- Support training for existing local businesses with regard to use of resources, sustainability etc.
- High levels of green space and sports/leisure facilities in the development should generate local leisure services employment opportunities.
- Young professionals such as UEA graduates need access to affordable homes.
Other comments under this heading to be considered
3 Transport and Infrastructure
- Concern about the type and distribution of businesses and their impact on residents.
- Concentrate on technologically advanced employment for the future.
- Parking provision for employees must be considered as well as public transport solutions.
- Employment dense businesses needed EG: Call Centre.
- There must be walk/cycle to work options. Routes to Norwich and nearby villages. All should have good lighting.
- Better access for vehicles, particularly commercial vehicles. This is very poor at present and must be remedied for existing business expansion and future commercial development.
- The NDR is essential for commercial growth at Rackheath. There must be continued lobbying for a full NDR to link to the A47 west of Norwich. Also lobbying for A11 and A47 dualling. (The Broadland Business Park and Norwich Research Park wouldn’t have grown without the Norwich Bypass).
- Provide good local public transport, rail, tramway, monorail and/or bus etc. Encourage more people to use the train. Better access to the rail service. Direct Norwich bus service.
- Consider a local rail terminal/depot for commercial use
- Fleets or car pools of local electric or biogas vehicles both domestic and commercial with potential to sell electricity back to the grid.
- High speed broadband is essential for new technology businesses. Make sure it is available for the whole community.
- Develop a Rackheath intranet/extranet hub that links all local businesses with the local community. This could for example provide preferential job advertising to local people in the walk/cycle to work catchment area.
- The transport infrastructure issues must be dealt with in the early phase of the development.
Other comments under this heading to be considered
4 Other Topics and comments
- Try to keep car use down. Encourage local home owners and businesses not to use cars. Consider underground parking solutions.
- S106 money should go towards both community facilities and better transport routes/solutions.
- Early commercial buildings may be out of date before the development is completed. Ensure that buildings can be subsequently retro-fitted with latest technologies.
- There has been too much consultation for the NDR which needs to go ahead to support existing, let alone new businesses.
- Some commercial vehicles currently use short cuts through local villages. The new road network must alleviate this.
- The Eco Enterprise Training & Visitors Centre concept should be fully explored. A community cohesion centre is needed to bring existing and new residents together. These should not rely on just public funding.
- Local businesses must be kept informed as the master-planning process evolves and kept in touch during the development in order that they can get first refusal on new opportunities.
- There must be a positive change in perception and attitudes towards green technologies. This is a rare opportunity to build a community around desirable businesses and technologies.
- Should businesses meet a required “green” level? If so what should that be? How could it be supported and achieved? What about a form of tax relief for eco businesses?
- There is a concern that businesses will be told how to operate their business. There is a danger of “eco business discrimination”.
- The Rackheath Eco-Community should be promoted locally, regionally, nationally and internationally for the benefit of both local businesses and residents.
- Don’t waste funds on extensive consultations, use them on the development. A focused vision could drive further government investment.
- There are problems with planning applications and associated bureaucracy. These need to be clearer and easier.
- Good marketing of Rackheath needs to be considered, online, through social networking and traditional methods (literature, radio, press releases etc). From a business/ commercial perspective, there needs to be a Rackheath eco-community business brand.
- Strive for self sufficient energy generation and solutions. Better waste management and recycling solutions for businesses. Aim for low voltage lighting throughout.
- Why Rackheath? Where do Tesco’s fit in? There should be plenty of allotments and open space in the development.