Way paved for new Norfolk homes

The way has been cleared for 37,000 homes and 27,000 jobs in and around Norwich in the next 15 years after a controversial blueprint for growth was given the green light by planning inspectors.

Years of debate over what is known as the joint core strategy for Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk will culminate today in the document being deemed sound by government inspectors, which opens the way for developments such as the eco-town at Rackheath and the Long Stratton bypass.

To the relief of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) – a partnership of Norwich, Broadland, South Norfolk and Norfolk councils and the Broads Authority – inspectors Roy Foster and Mike Fox will rule the document is sound.

That means a framework will soon be in place against which future planning applications can be assessed. Developers who want to build homes in areas outlined in the blueprint will stand more chance of success – and those trying to build elsewhere are less likely to get permission.

Council bosses hailed the blueprint as vital to future jobs, homes and economic prosperity at a time when the population of the county is growing.

Steve Morphew, Norwich City Council leader, said: “Official approval for this historic blueprint for jobs, homes and future prosperity gives confidence to us all. The common goal is to enhance the quality of life for this, and future, generations who live in the city and around, with plans for more homes going arm in arm with the jobs and services communities need to thrive.

“This should mean the end of developer and expediency-driven development and growth.”

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The news will disappoint critics who fear it will lead to urban sprawl from Norwich, with villages swamped by new homes.

They had hoped that, if the scheme had been found unsound, it would deliver a knock-out blow to proposals for the controversial Northern Distributor Road (NDR), which is currently in funding limbo.

But the inspectors said: “The authorities have seized the initiative, risen to the challenges presented by the demographic forecasts for the area and made a proactive response which recognises the scale of the issues.