Local campaigning organisations CPRE Norfolk, Stop Norwich Urbanisation and NNTAG, with the support of over 3,000 local people, have joined forces to call for the Joint Core Strategy for the Greater Norwich area to be withdrawn before £300,000 of public money is jeopardised.
The Examination-in-Public of the Strategy is set to go ahead next week, costing local councils upwards of £300,000, despite the Government’s Spending Review placing fresh doubts over the Strategy’s deliverability. CPRE, SNUB and NNTAG can see the money being wasted as the Strategy risks failing on numerous counts:
· The plan is not wanted - over 3,000 local people have signed petitions in the North East of Norwich against the proposals
· No guaranteed funding for the NDR yet the Strategy is dependent on it being delivered
· The strategy is based on economic boom and cannot come close to delivering housing numbers in the current economic climate
· The Localism Agenda - with the scrapping of regional planning and the push for a Big Society, the top down approach of the Strategy is out of date
· Immediate review - the councils have already decided to review the plan in December - a sign that they know it’s unrealistic
James Frost, Director of CPRE Norfolk, said “In the current economic climate, we are looking for best value from every pound in the public purse. The councils are taking a big risk with public money, placing this outdated Strategy before a Government Inspector, knowing that there is no guarantee it will succeed.
“We already have saved Local Plan Policies that can cover us in the interim, as well as over 12,000 permissions for homes in the area that have yet to be built, so why continue? With the Government keen to localise the planning system and open a new debate on housing, now is the time for Norfolk councils to think again.”
Stephen Heard, Chairman of Stop Norwich Urbanisation, said “We already know that Government Inspector has written to the Greater Norwich Development Partnership asking whether they still wanted to proceed in the light of the economic climate and the considerable costs already incurred. They would do well to listen.
“Stop Norwich Urbanisation are totally in favour of meeting local housing need but we want to encourage smaller developments across many towns and villages rather than lumping a few massive developments in the countryside, changing the shape of our agricultural county for good. That way, the future of local services like schools and shops can be assured and small local industries can be encouraged. It will also allow developers to provide low-cost village homes for future generations rather than forcing them to move elsewhere for housing they can afford.”
Denise Carlo, chair of Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group said, “There is a strong risk that the Councils’ strategy for Greater Norwich will be found unsound as their growth plans are dependent on a NDR, funding for which is highly uncertain. If the plans are thrown out, those responsible should be personally held to account for the waste of public money.”
The groups have written to all Norfolk MPs to ask for them to lend weight to the Strategy being withdrawn before the Examination-in-Public, due next week.