Exhibitions raise concerns over plans for new homes

Just Regional
Aug 14, 2015 5 mins read

The first viewing of plans for 1,000 new homes to be built on the site of the Royal Norwich Golf Course were met with mixed responses and a lot of concern regarding extra traffic on Drayton High Road.

Two public exhibitions were organised by developer Persimmon Homes Anglia at Hellesdon Community Centre on July 29 and August 1, and gave local residents a chance to see the proposals for the 1,000 new homes, a primary school, highway improvements, open space and public access and associated infrastructure, ahead of a planning application being submitted to Broadland District Council.

Laura Townes, planning manager for Persimmon Homes Anglia, said: “The two public exhibition events at Hellesdon Community Centre were very well attended, giving us a superb opportunity to receive feedback on our proposals to redevelop the site and to answer questions.

“Many concerns related to increased road congestion and our consultant engineers were present at the exhibition to explain the proposed highways improvement works to Drayton High Road and the Middletons Lane junction. We will continue to work closely with the Local Authority, Highways Authority and other statutory bodies on all matters raised by consultation responses prior to submitting a planning application.

“The valuable feedback received through this process will help us to deliver the right development for this location, suiting the specific needs of local people.”

However, Hellesdon Parish Council chairman and Broadland District councillor for Hellesdon North West Ward, Shelagh Gurney, is very unhappy about the proposals, particularly the road.

“Within a very short distance there will be three new roads and a new set of traffic lights all coming out directly onto the already busy A1067 Drayton High Road, which will be a disaster. There is at present only one road onto and off the southern site.

“I suggested to a representative of Persimmon that they do the traffic improvements first, as a gesture of good will, but apparently they have been advised by Norfolk County Council Highway Authority that don’t have to do any traffic improvements for the first phase of homes.”

Shelagh was also concerned by the positioning of the proposed school site, on the corner where Drayton High Road meets Hospital Lane.

“It’s in a cul-de-sac, which in my experience is never a good position for a school,” she said. “It will also be subject to a lot of traffic pollution, which can’t be good for a school. It will also be sited next door to a mobile communications mast. I know in the past there have been serious concerns about installing these next to schools.

“In my opinion it would be much more suitable to discuss the possibility of building it on the other side of the road, backing on to Hellesdon High School, where a new school could share the existing amenities.

Shelagh was also sceptical about why the development had suddenly picked up speed, and was disappointed that only 2,000 leaflets were distributed around Hellesdon to advertise this public consultation when there are more than 5,600 homes.

“Persimmon could have made more effort to approach the council in the first instance before they produced their current proposals. I don’t know why it’s being done so quickly, and 10 hours of initial public consultation for something that’s so big for Hellesdon is not enough. This will be the largest housing development we have seen for decades.”

Local resident Kingsley Avenell, who lives on Drayton Wood Road with his partner Sara, attended the exhibition and was looking at the development both in terms of the impact on the area as a local resident, but also in his capacity as a governor at Hellesdon High School.

“I don’t object to extra houses being built on the golf course. If there were more bungalows and detached houses, in keeping with the area, then there would be a lower density,” said Kingsley. “1,000 homes could mean a potential extra 2,000 cars on the road, plus there’s no plans for an extra doctors surgery.

“Drayton Wood Road is a rat-run as it is, and there’s a crash around once a month. I’ve spoken to lots of residents on our road and they’re all very concerned about the additional traffic.

“The general feel at the exhibition was not very positive. The whole thing was very short notice and I felt that the representatives from Persimmon were just paying lip service and that nothing that was said will really make a difference.”

Kingsley, who has been a governor at Hellesdon High School for one-and-a-half years and has two children at the school, was also concerned how the high school would accommodate the extra students when it is already extending its quota to meet demand.
A spokesperson from Persimmon Homes Anglia said that they anticipated that a hybrid planning application – detailed first phase and outline for remainder of site – will be submitted to Broadland District Council towards the end of August/early September 2015.

The parish council will be holding its own public consultation the week that this magazine comes out ( August 17-21, 9.30am-12noon, 1.30-3.30pm, plus a late night session on Thursday from 5.15-8.15pm), where the Persimmon exhibition boards can be viewed again and there will also be a questionnaire so the council can gather local opinions.

It is anticipated that the parish council will then hold another open week around September 21, so residents can view Persimmon’s full planning application, and a possible public meeting to discuss it.

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