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Developer behind controversial 10,000 home Norfolk town lobbied government over plans

PUBLISHED: 17:21 14 September 2018

A map of the proposed new town's location in mid Norfolk, between the villages of North Elmham, Billingford and Bintree. Photo: Lanpro

A map of the proposed new town's location in mid Norfolk, between the villages of North Elmham, Billingford and Bintree. Photo: Lanpro

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The controversy over plans for a new mid Norfolk town has been ramped up after it was revealed the developer has lobbied central government for the go ahead to submit a proposal without the support of the local authority.

Norwich developers Lanpro were dealt a major blow just weeks ago when councillors at Breckland district council (BDC) were advised not to support their vision for a new 10,000 home town between Dereham and Fakenham.

The plans, previously revealed by this newspaper, were intended to be submitted as part of a government call for sites for garden communities, as outlined in a prospectus published by the Ministry for Housing last month.

But an email sent to parish councillors by Cllr Bill Borrett, and seen by this newspaper, states: “Lanpro are now engaging directly with the government and the minister to request that the terms of the prospectus are amended so Lanpro can put forward the site without the support of Breckland Council.”

In the email, sent on Friday, September 14, Cllr Borrett added: “As no formal proposal has yet been received by Breckland there are no proposals at the moment to do anything further or discuss it at a full council meeting.”

Managing director, Chris Leeming, of the town planning and building design consultancy firm Lanpro. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYManaging director, Chris Leeming, of the town planning and building design consultancy firm Lanpro. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Breckland District Council (BDC) leader William Nunn said the council would “do all they could” to prevent the developers bypassing the local authority.

He added: “We would do all we could to protect our community.”

READ MORE: Major blow for new 10,000 home Mid-Norfolk Garden Town plans as councillors recommended to reject proposals

Cllr Borrett said: “I personally think the government shouldn’t support this. It makes a mockery of their support for localism.”

General manager of the Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR), George Saville, said the railway had met with Lanpro a few weeks ago, but had been told the developer was intending to submit a traditional planning application.

He said: “It’s very hard for the railway to make any decision until there’s a proper proposal.

“For the railway to be interested it needs to safeguard the MNR and be beneficial to the community.”

Managing director of Lanpro, Chris Leeming, said the company was considering its options.

Breckland district councillor, Bill Borrett, at the site of the proposed development of ten thousand homes. Photo: Bill BorrettBreckland district councillor, Bill Borrett, at the site of the proposed development of ten thousand homes. Photo: Bill Borrett

Mr Leeming did not respond to direct questions about lobbying government ahead of publication.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing said: “We are absolutely clear that proposals must be explicitly supported by the local authority, even where they are submitted by other organisations.”

They added: “It is for local authorities to determine how best to demonstrate engagement with local communities, including current and future residents.

“Local areas should decide how best to engage with current and future residents in developing the proposal.

“To ensure that the potential local growth benefits have been considered, it will be desirable for proposals to have the support of the Local Enterprise Partnership, where the area has one.

“However, proposals without Local Enterprise support will still be considered.”

READ MORE: Plans revealed for new 10,000 home Norfolk town

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