Stop Norwich Urbanisation (SNUB), a local community campaign group based in Norfolk, have today issued a legal challenge against the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) issued by Broadland District Council (BDC) and the other local authorities in the county who make up the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP). The JCS proposes to develop over 30,000 houses in and around Norwich including the proposed Eco town at Rackheath.
The chair of SNUB Stephen Heard said, “We have today, on behalf of the thousands of local residents who objected to the proposed development in the North East growth triangle, instructed leading environmental Solicitors, Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law from Cambridge, to submit a legal challenge on the grounds, among others, that BDC have not conformed to the relevant requirements of Article 5(1) of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.”
We would now expect the new Council following the district elections on the 5th May to take this opportunity to withdraw the current JCS in order for them to start again with a viable and accurate forecast of housing need in the area. Once that housing need, as opposed to housing want, is determined and independently verified by experts we would expect to see a reduction in the number of houses required over the next 15 years. Our hope then is that a number of alternative solutions would be placed before the electorate in an open and transparent consultation. Furthermore we would expect all of the alternatives to be assessed to the same level in order for the public to make an informed decision and choice about the provision of future housing needs and for the Council to listen to and act on the Communities wishes rather than working hand in glove with developers.
Our desire is that this would result in the current and future population of the district being housed in a sensible and considered way with a dispersed strategy providing fresh investment into existing communities, maintaining what little food producing land we have left here in Norfolk and protecting the countryside as we know it.
Stephen Heard went on to say “We are encouraged by the recent success of the Save our Historic Newmarket campaign against Forest Heath District Council in neighbouring Suffolk as they were able to get the High Court to quash the Core Strategy that threatened the unique character of Newmarket and its considerable horse-racing industry”.
It is regretful that we have had to take this step however we feel that this was necessary as BDC have consistently failed to take any notice of the local residents in the original JCS consultation, the strength of feelings at public meetings, petitioners in their thousands and other consultations like the proposed Exemplar development at Rackheath. In addition BDC members were aware when they decided to proceed with the JCS last year that there was a considerable risk of a legal challenge yet they chose, on the advice of unelected Officers, to proceed knowing that leading Barristers had publicly stated that the JCS was and always will be legally unsound.