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Ambition to make high speed broadband available as standard in new developments in Norfolk to be discussed

PUBLISHED: 19:43 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:43 16 January 2018

Tom Garrod, Conservative candidate for Wroxham. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives

Tom Garrod, Conservative candidate for Wroxham. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives

Norfolk Conservatives

A series of measures designed to make superfast broadband access in new housing and business developments as ordinary as water and electricity are to be discussed by councillors next week.

A report to Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee recommends the council uses its influence and powers to ensure that, wherever possible, all new developments incorporate superfast (24mbps+) or preferably ultrafast (up to 1000mbps) broadband connections.

Although Government and the National Planning Policy Framework both support and encourage the inclusion of high speed broadband, there are no statutory requirements which support this aspiration.

Tom Garrod, Chairman of the Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said: “Our Better Broadband for Norfolk programme has more than doubled superfast broadband access in Norfolk since 2012, but we’re really missing a trick if new developments aren’t being built with superfast broadband available as a minimum.

“A fast and reliable broadband connection is a major consideration for people buying or renting a home, as well as business owners and tourists. While the County Council does not have any direct control over such developments, I feel this committee and council can and should take a coordinating role in getting some practical solutions put in place.”

The report recommends the council reviews district planning policies to ensure they promote high speed broadband connectivity and, if not already in place, the committee should work with district councils to propose that wording is incorporated to promote the deployment of fibre broadband.

A further recommendation suggests the council should consult with broadband network providers to establish whether its own highways policies and procedures could be amended to improve the pace and scope of fibre installation across the county.

Most broadband infrastructure is installed along roads for ease of access so broadband network providers need to work with highways authorities to build and maintain their networks. It is hoped that any opportunity to streamline procedures could make including high speed broadband in smaller developments more financially viable, particularly those where existing fibre networks are not available nearby.

Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee will meet at 10am on Monday, January 22, at County Hall in Norwich.

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