Business park a step closer

Moves to create more than 3,000 jobs and build the first phase of the Norwich northern bypass moved a step closer yesterday after getting the green light from planners.

Moves to create more than 3,000 jobs and build the first phase of the Norwich northern bypass moved a step closer yesterday after getting the green light from planners.

Broadland District Council's planning committee approved the new Broadland Gate scheme close to the A47 Postwick interchange on the eastern fringe of the city.

The development by Ifield Estates on 49 acres of farmland will include offices, research and development facilities, light industry and storage warehouses, a hotel, shops and restaurants.

Planners also backed a reworking of the Postwick interchange proposed by Norfolk County Council which the Highways Agency has said is key to expanding the business park, but which will also form the starting point for the bypass (NDR).

Ministers are expected to announce this month whether the NDR should be placed on the government's list of approved road-building schemes, but a question mark remains over the development after the Department for Transport asked the county council for more information on “non-road” alternatives.

Approval would immediately free up �21m pledged from the Department of Communities and Local Government to help build the interchange.

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Supporters see the two developments as crucial to delivering a regional plan for thousands of new homes and jobs and the area.

But the meeting heard concerns from villagers that the scheme would create more traffic problems in surrounding areas and does not address unacceptable levels of traffic in surrounding country roads including Green Lane, Smee Lane, Plumstead Road, and Yarmouth Road.

Anglian Water had also raised concerns about a flooding risk because the foul sewerage system could not accommodate the proposed waste water flows from the development and there were question marks over when the capacity would be available to cope.

Norwich International airport had concerns about glass dazzling pilots and the siting of lagoons in the area, and environmentalists have criticised the overly complex design of the new interchange.

There were also concerns about residents whose houses are in the centre of the proposed development.

Alfred Townley, chairman of Great and Little Plumstead Council and a member of the Thorpe End Garden Village residents' association said residents were against the scheme and accused the county council of encouraging development in the area in a bid to try to fund the NDR.

“The growth should be on the southern side of the city,” he said. “We should not be encouraging developments like this when there are lots of business premises at Great Yarmouth and North Walsham which lie vacant.”

Simon Radford, chief executive of KBC Asset Management, advisers to the business park's owners Lothbury Property Trust, was opposed to the scheme because there was still a large amount of vacant office space on the existing business park. The scheme should form part of the so-called joint core strategy for the greater Norwich area and brownfield sites should be considered instead.

There were also safety concerns about the proposed flyover linking the new road to the A47 and the complex route people living in Thorpe St Andrew would need to follow to get home.

But 13 members of the committee voted for the scheme with one abstention.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for transport and planning at Norfolk County Council, later said: “It's encouraging that we have gained this planning permission. It's one more hurdle out of the way to build the Postwick hub and the NDR.”