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Reader letter: Why we should all be concerned about plans for a new Norfolk town

PUBLISHED: 14:57 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:53 03 October 2018

The new town site borders the protected Wensum river valley, Photo: Archant

The new town site borders the protected Wensum river valley, Photo: Archant

Archant

As a member of the newly-formed CANT (Campaign Against the New Town), I wish to widen the argument from the geographical and political perspectives.

At the moment attention is focussed on the villages that will essentially disappear, subsumed under 10,000 houses, and we are probably viewed by some as just NIMBYs.

But we should all realise that a cancer has been introduced to the very heart of Norfolk and this disease will spread well beyond the 1,300 acres currently dozing in the autumn sunshine, unaware of the fate about to befall them.

The building phase would probably last 20 years or more. That’s 20 years of construction traffic rolling in from all corners of Norfolk.

We have no promise of major road improvements so construction traffic and eventually some 20,000 extra cars will still have to bumble along on our narrow, bendy roads. That means the villages on the B1145, B1110 and A1067 should all be very concerned. Bypasses and road widening would be essential.

In Dereham traffic gridlock is already a common feature of daily life. Into this we will have extra vehicles trying to find a way to and from the A47 to the new town, but now also with the prospect of the main roads being closed several times an hour as trains lumber slowly in and out of Dereham station and under the A47 bypass, on their way to a station in Wymondham that connects to nowhere.

If you have needed the N&N or the QE hospitals of late you will realise they are already fully stretched. There is no suggestion of an additional hospital, so join the queue with the new 40,000 residents who will be arriving.

In fact it is not just hospitals - the developer’s proposal has pages of what an excellent experience it would be to come and live in their new town. Amongst all those pages there is not one single mention of any benefit or concession to those who chose to live here for its tranquillity and rural aspect, and this reflects their attitude to the whole community of Norfolk.

Almost daily we hear the latest Brexit story. Personally I have no idea which will come true or not, but I like to think I have enough sense to realise that when, politically and climatically, we are about to go through some of the biggest and unpredictable changes in a lifetime, I would not be wanting to see my country further slashing its capability to produce its own food and feed its own population by concreting over 1’300 acres of top quality agricultural land.

Having kept the proposal as quiet as possible for a couple of years, when the story finally broke Lanpro were told by Breckland Council they must engage with the local communities, as the government call for garden towns is very clear that local engagement and support of the local Council is a prerequisite.

Months on and the engagement remains nil, but instead we are told they are lobbying government to get the rules changed, and complain in the EDP that the timescale is too short.

They say they have “community and infrastructure” at the heart of the proposal whilst demonstrating neither, certainly not to the existing community.

So against this background we are meant to trust a company that promises massive investments and improvements to a railway that has heritage status and can travel at no more than 25mph. The town and the railway are on opposite sides of the Wensum, so how will they bridge that at County School given the Wensum is one of Europe’s most environmentally protected rivers?

Lanpro show maps of railways extending north to Holt, Fakenham and Wells where, in railway terms, there remains nothing but memories.

The whole plan is built on falsehoods and a desire to develop for developments sake.

Nobody believes this is the right spot for a new town, it is reverse engineered and only being placed here opportunistically because the landowners are prepared to sell.

Breckland has good plans for the anticipated housing needs for decades ahead. So let us stick to these, they have been carefully put in place by planners, not developers, and as everyone would advise, cut out this cancer at the earliest opportunity.

ANDY CUTCHER

Campaign Against the New Town

What do you think about the plan for a possible new town in mid Norfolk? Email reporter Jessica.Frank-Keyes@archant.co.uk

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