Over the past few years the Stop Norwich Urbanisation campaign has received many emails and telephone calls from supporters and sympathisers from all over the UK and abroad. Some people know the area and are aghast at what Broadland District Council are proposing and others are facing similar struggles in their own locality and are expressing support and help.
What is coming over loud and clear is that many local councils and planners are NOT listening to local residents but are pursuing their own agendas and aspirations. Their ideas might have started as idealogical but they have been rapidly taken up by developers whose main aim is profit. Wherever they are involved you can almost bet your bottom dollar that they smell profit at the end - they are not local benefactors but businessmen with a bottom line to nurture. It is the developers who really influence what is going to be built and where.
Those of us who decide to oppose such development are then at the mercy of the PR companies paid to label us a nimbys and who try to accuse us of holding back progress and badly needed homes no matter how many times we say we support providing new homes. The developers are already part of the process before anyone else gets to be consulted and they become 'stakeholders' who are able to influence and promote the outcomes they wanted in the first place. The partnership arrangements so beloved by local government are often just a roller coaster to a pre-determined end point and democratically elected councillors and the public seem to have little real opportunity for challenging or changing the course of things.
The Greater Norwich Development Partnership's consultation period for the Statement of Focussed Changes runs until Monday 30th August and you have an opportunity to comment on its legal compliance or whether it is justified, effective or consistent with national policy ie its soundness. However, the majority of folk will struggle with making any representation as it is complex and requires a great deal of knowledge and skill to complete - hardly a fair public consultation.
It is a funny old world but not one that can't be changed! Use every opportunity for consultation and write to (or email) local councillors, MPs, government ministers and local newspapers.