Back in late 2008 Building Partnerships the developer of the proposed Rackheath eco-town held exhibitions to showcase their plans. Feedback was collected from those attending and a report is available on the developer's website.
More than 200 responses are shown in this report and over two thirds are opposed to the plans with comments such as " I am against the whole idea, we live in the country. Had I had wanted to live in a town I would not have moved here in the first place" appearing regularly. The more cynical said " the community does not matter if there is money to be made".
Building Partnerships say "Above all, our objective is to to ensure a robust, rigorous and honest consultation". Local residents, however, know that Building Partnerships and Broadland District Council carry out consultations as a box ticking exercise but they never listen. They have known from the outset that the overwhelming majority of residents do not want their lives ruined by large scale development which will transform local villages and turn the area into another part of the insidious Norwich urban sprawl. Yet they carry on regardless...
Will the government's promise of giving power to the man and woman on the street ever be realized here? David Cameron said he wanted community empowerment - "communities with oomph", "neighbourhoods in charge of their own destiny". We're still fighting but is anyone out there listening?
Perhaps the cynic who wrote "the community dos not matter if there is money to be made" was right after all - there is a lot of money to be made here. That is why so many developers are keen to build on huge swathes of the countryside - it's all about profit margins.