Reepham could see more new houses being built under the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP), which is currently under public consultation.
However, concerns have been raised about whether the two sites already allocated in the town will actually be developed.
The new local plan sets out a vision and strategy for growth and includes policies that will be used to determine planning applications in the Greater Norwich area to 2036.
Residents are being urged to make their comments on these early-stage proposals, with the consultation deadline now extended until 22 March.
At Tuesday’s extraordinary general meeting of Reepham Town Council held to discuss the GNLP, retired planning consultant Hugh Ivins said that most of the additional 7,200 new houses being planned to 2036 would be built in Norwich and fringe parishes and in South Norfolk.
However, the GNLP also proposes that 1,000 new houses be allocated among 10 towns and large villages. This could mean that key services centres such as Reepham could see 100 new houses (on purely mathematical grounds), although Mr Ivins’ hunch is that this will be more likely nearer 50.
This figure would be in addition to the current 140 new homes already allocated under the previous Joint Core Strategy to 2026 – 120 houses on land off Broomhill Lane and 20 houses on a mixed employment/residential site at the former station yard off Station Road.
However, almost two years after the Planning Inspector gave the go-ahead, planning applications have yet to be put forward on either of these existing sites, Mr Ivins pointed out.
“The danger is that if these site allocations are declared to be ‘unsound’, this could allow other sites to come through in their place – without any consultation,” he told the meeting.
Meanwhile, the need for smaller houses, especially for older residents as well as younger people, and also “housing with care”, was discussed. Many elderly people, it was argued, would be willing to downsize if acceptable accommodation was available in Reepham, which would release larger homes onto the housing market for families wanting to stay or move to the area.
Questions were also raised about Reepham’s status as a key service centre, especially with its poor public transport links, road network and other infrastructure, and limited employment growth opportunities, with the town in danger of becoming a car-based commuter community.
The meeting was highly critical of the general unfriendliness of the GNLP documents and online comments procedure, which were described as “a nightmare” and “not easy to navigate”. As one resident said, “all this information is just too hard to take in!”
Eight sites have been put forward for development in Reepham and comments can be made on the Site Proposals consultation document.
The GNLP also calls for 1,200 homes in other, smaller villages across the Greater Norwich area, and sites have been put forward in such nearby places as Cawston, Foulsham, Great Witchingham and Weston Longville.
The GNLP is being produced by Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council and South Norfolk Council working together with Norfolk County Council through the Greater Norwich Development Partnership.
The partnership is also consulting on a Growth Options document that sets out:
- the broad housing numbers required to 2036;
- six main distribution options for development growth;
- policy issues such as air quality, landscape and affordable housing.
The deadline for public comments on the GNLP has now been extended to 5pm, Thursday 22 March.
Reepham Town Council has formed a subcommittee to formulate its response to the GNLP documents. This is expected to be ratified at the next Town Council meeting on Wednesday 14 March at 7.30 pm in the Town Hall, Church Street, Reepham.
See our earlier stories:
- Public consultation starts on Greater Norwich Local Plan
- Planning inspector gives green light for Broomhill Lane housing