Norfolk council formally rejects 10,000-home garden town proposal

A Norfolk council has formally voted not to support proposals for a 10,000-home garden town after planners advised that the scheme would 'jeopardise the integrity' of its emerging local plan.

Countryside between Dereham and Fakenham (pic: Evelyn Simak via Geograph)
Countryside between Dereham and Fakenham (pic: Evelyn Simak via Geograph)

The concept scheme for the Mid Norfolk Garden Town, proposed for a site between Dereham and Fakenham, is being worked up by a project team comprising architects Allies and Morrison, consultancy Peter Brett Associates, professor of landscape architecture Kathryn Moore and consultancy Lanpro.

The plans are being developed on behalf of promoter Norfolk Railway Village Ltd.

A document produced by Lanpro late last year said that the proposal is to deliver a garden town "that is connected to the main centres within the Eastern Region by an existing network of high-quality heavy rail and road links".

It adds: "This new rural garden town will work with the existing landscape to protect our beautiful Norfolk countryside whilst embracing high-quality design and futurism".

But in August it emerged that planners at Breckland District Council had put a break on the emerging plans.

Following an assessment of the proposals, the council said that officers would not be recommending to councillors that the local authority support the plans. The council said that the proposal had been reviewed in the context of the new garden communities prospectus, which was issued by the government in August.

A meeting of the council last week accepted the recommendation from planners. A report to the committee said that Breckland Council’s emerging local plan "is currently at an advanced stage of preparation".

"The proposal put forward by Lanpro has not been promoted as part of the process of preparing the Breckland local plan, and consequently it does not feature as part of the plan put forward for consideration", the report said. 

The report warned that, should the council endorse the proposal, "this would effectively jeopardise the integrity of the local plan process".

The document said that the proposal "does not align with nor support [the emerging local plan], rather it introduces new (and potentially significant) infrastructure requirements to allow it to come forward, and would introduce a significant new location of growth that differs from the current pattern of development. Therefore, the proposal does not fit strategically with the current development strategy for the area."

However, the report said that the plan could potentially be brought forward through preparation of the council’s next local plan.

"The council’s expectation is that engagement through the next local plan process is the most appropriate opportunity to consider the longer term growth strategy for the district and allow proposals to be thoroughly tested and subject to appropriate evidence base and consultation", the report said.

Lanpro has been approached for comment but it had yet to respond at time of publication. In August, the firm said that the council’s decision not to support the plans was "not a major setback". The firm said that the scheme "will be worked-up by the project team and promoted through the next Breckland Local Plan review expected to start within 24 months".

In August last year, plans were submitted to Breckland Council for up to 4,000 homes on a 217-hectare site to the south of Attleborough. 

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