Attleborough at risk ...

Statement of issues inc. in letter sent to our MP inc. Wymondham & Diss MP's in addition sent to the Lib. Dem's

1. The current proposal by Breckland DC (BDC) for Attleborough will effectively double the size of the town within the life of the plan. The current population of the town is about 10,000 and 4000 houses are proposed.

2. Under the terms of the Eastern Region Plan, BDC have been charged with providing development areas to accommodate 15,200 houses between April 2001 and March 2021. To date (May 2008) 3460 have been built, leaving a remaining total of 11,740. This includes 6,000 for Thetford, leaving a total of 5,740 for the rest of BDC. Thetford is a special case, presumably stemming from its original designation as a London overspill town. Additionally there will be committed development, i.e. houses that have planning permission and are either under construction or are scheduled for construction. Thus Attleborough appears to have been singled out for most of the remaining BDC target allocation. This seems quite inappropriate.

3. With addition of 4000 homes and approximately 9000 people to the area a very large proportion of people will be attracted by low cost and shared ownership housing. In an area already recognised as low skilled and with a predominately physical labour requirement we are very likely to gain a high immigrant population. This will create great competition for local work and as proven price original locals out of work. Without a major growth of industry prior to the housing development this will place a massive burden on the local economy.

4. The process by which BDC have allocated potential development land appears flawed. According to BDC they asked for landowners to offer land that they considered could be built on. Examination of the published plans reveal that many owners, whilst offering some of the land indicated, did not offer all of the land shown. Equally, others offered land that does not appear on the plans. It is clear that BDC have applied some filtering process, presumably to comply with some preconceptions that they have not shared.

5. All the land proposed is sited to the south of the A11. The reasons for discounting land to the north is not clear.

6. The proposals also include what have been referred to as relief roads, although the details are not generally available and do not appear on the published plans. These are particularly relevant to our objections since they involve very significant elevated concrete structures, at least ten metres high, in order to pass over the railway. These are quite inappropriate in a rural setting and, in Besthorpe, would be across open countryside, adjacent to substantial and listed properties, including the local church.

7. The land on the Besthorpe side of Attleborough is very fertile rich farming soil; the fields to the Thetford side are sandy low grade farming land.

8. Although BDC claim the roads are needed to access the development there is a suspicion that they are trying to get significant local road improvements on the cheap by getting the developers (and eventually the house purchasers) to fund these significant highways. Estimates of £20M have been mentioned and this would add an average of £5000 to each house.

9. In essence development of towns and villages along the A11 corridor is sadly inevitable, however, it must be in scale with local communities and sustainable to the local economy and environment. The Attleborough and Besthorpe proposal is not realistic or sustainable on any level.

10. Access is much easier (and therefore cheaper) to the north of the A11, primarily because of recent improvements to the A11. Similarly access to the west of Attleborough is simpler, again because of the recent work to the A11.

11. The proximity of the railway line to the proposed development areas, particularly to the east, means that some residents will be subjected to significant noise from trains. If the government’s policy of transferring more people from roads to rail, then further development of the railway would seem inevitable and therefore even more intrusive. The proposed relief road, again particularly to the east, will add to the intrusion for both existing and future residents.

12. BDC’s web site includes the following principles to be applied to planning policy for the LDF:

• Decent homes at affordable prices
• Safeguarding the countryside
• The enjoyment of a well designed, accessible and pleasant living and working environment

13. The Governments’ Planning Policy Number 3, dated November 2006 includes the following:

a. Local and regional planning bodies will need to take more account of affordability when determining how many new homes are needed in their area.
b. A continuing focus on brownfield land, retaining the national target that at least 60 per cent of new homes should be built on brownfield land. Local authorities will need to continue to prioritize brownfield land in their plans and will need to set their own local targets to reflect available sites and support the national target. They will also need to take stronger action to bring more brownfield land back into use.
c. Stronger emphasis on rural affordable housing. Following the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission, local authorities and regional planning bodies will have to take greater account of affordability pressures in rural areas, and the need to sustain village life by providing additional housing that is sensitive to the area and the environment.

14. Including expensive and very intrusive elevated road structures does not seem to conform to either BDC’s or government policy regarding affordability or environment.

15. Where will the industry to support an increased workforce come from?

16. How will other infrastructure (schools, health care, water, power etc) cope?

17. If the logic of providing such marked increase in development along the A11 corridor is because of its proximity to Norwich and relatively ready access to the rest of the country, how does this tie in with the need to reduce carbon emissions and provide sustainable development?