Community Planning Weekend
The following is designed to be an unbiased account of the two days of the community involvement event. This is a straightforward account of comments made by those present and hopefully captures most of the issues that were raised. We would be very happy to include comments on either the weekend or the development in general. This can be e-mailed by clicking here. Please title your e-mail village development to prevent it being caught in the spam box.
Introduction (the following is taken from the official flyer distributed around the village and is intended for information without comment) -
The Greater Norwich Development Partnership have prepared a Joint Core Strategy showing that Hethersett can accommodate a minimum of 1,000 new homes.. Once the Joint Core Strategy has been agreed it will be sent to the government for testing. Later in 2010 it will be examined by an independent inspector. If this is passed, specific areas of land for development in Hethersett will be identified.
Hethersett Land Limited, part of the Ptarmigan Land Group, is working with landowners to explore how the housing strategy can be best delivered in the future. John Thompson and Partners have been appointed to engage residents and stakeholders in the assessment of the issues and opportunities for Hethersett and the surrounding area, including Little Melton, and to develop a vision for the future.
Day One - Friday March 19th
The event started with introductions of staff from J.T Thompson and Partners, Ptarmigan Land Group and Bidwells. John Thompson of J.T Thompson and Partners outlined areas throughout the world where consultation with residents had taken place including Europe, China and Arabia. A similar event had taken place recently in Attleborough which had been attended by between 500 and 600.
"Development doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can be a good thing. By being involved you can influence what comes out at the end," John Thompson said.
It was explained that various proposals had been put forward for Hethersett ranging from zero growth up to 8,000. Figures discussed also included 4,000 homes. Eventually a figure of at least 1,000 has been put forward. Hethersett is seen as an attractive place for development due to its proximity to the Norwich Research Park, the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where there is an anticipated explosion in what is known as the knowledge economy.
A major part of the process is to look at facilities for schools, leisure facilities and improvements to transport including cycleways and park and ride systems.
"It is a matter of balancing the bits that you do want against bits you don't want. Ultimately it will be a compromise and not something foisted on you. When it works, it works well providing everybody works together. If you do not know the change you want you will get the change you don't want," John Thompson said.
Charles Campion from the J.T Thompson Partnership said: "We have tried to get to know Hethersett and met with various groups in an effort to understand the issues and get under the skin of the community. It is a long journey for us all to go on."
A resident asked how likely the new development would be and John Thompson replied with the following words: "If I was a betting man I would put a million pounds on development taking place."
The meeting heard that it will take nine months for the core strategy to be adopted with planning applications sometime in 2011 and building two to three years after that.
A general workshop took place which looked at the problems facing the village, people's dreams and solutions.
The following "problems" and comments were raised and made.
In addition the comment was voiced by a number of people that any additional development is unnecessary and the village should remain exactly that - a village.
Those present were then asked to suggest their dreams for the village. These included the following:
The workshop then looked at solutions and came up with the following:
The afternoon sessions were divided into a number of small workshops covering a number of different aspects of village life. The following points came from these workshops:
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John Thompson ended the day by saying:
"Hethersett is too attractive a place not to have development. You have the opportunity of making it one of the best communities in the world. The key is to make something very interesting here for the future. You have the chance to make a vibrant and exciting eco village.
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Day Two - Saturday March 20th
After the general introductions there was a heated discussion with a number of residents voicing strongly their objections to any added development. A number of topics were raised with one member of the audience bringing up the subject of a previous village appraisal.
"10 years ago there was a village appraisal about what the whole village needed. This went out to every household. The vast majority of people responding - about 80% - said they did not want any more housing in Hethersett. The district council took no notice of this and clearly don't care what the residents of Hethersett think," he said.
There were a number of complaints about homes not receiving flyers through the post and a lack of advertising of the event. Other comments regarding the proposed development included the following:
The morning session once again highlighted problems in the village which included the following:
The following dreams were put forward
A series of workshops were held during the afternoon session and these looked at a number of areas which included the following.
The current village centre is inadequate with the doctors' surgery, library, schools and shops strung out along one road. To make a real village heart the secondary school would need to be re-sited with a village centre being constructed around the current school. The surgery would have to be expanded and green spaces should be built into any design.
The village needs to plan for the long term, taking a look at 50 and 100 years time and not just the immediate future.
A comment was made that the centre lacks character and a sense of place and doesn't feel like the kind of centre a village the size of Hethersett should have.
The density of development should be cut and certainly be well below the density on the Poppyfields development.
Pressure will need to be eased on the Thickthorn area and also rat runs through Little Melton. Bus routes need to be strengthened and there needs to be an awareness of a massive increase in traffic. There should also be an improved park and ride system.
There is a lack of open green space in the village and no allotments. The country park idea should be developed.
A number of children were interviewed in the village and their ideas included a fountain and seats on the Memorial Playing Field and a bigger hall for scouts and guides.
Small business opportunities should be looked at and Hethersett should keep its village appeal.
One workshop looked at the idea of a village team of local residents to act as a pressure group to work with developers to ensure the best possible outcome regarding facilities for the village. This group would also enhance relationships with local industry and companies.
A number of other ideas were put forward during the individual workshops including
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