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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.

General Workshop

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.

Problems caused by traffic in the village with buses finding difficulty in getting round. Particular comment was made on congestion in Great Melton Road.

Doctors' surgery already over subscribed with difficulties in obtaining appointments.

Existing dentists too expensive.

New housing would put an intolerable burden on existing facilities.

Problems with new housing on the Poppyfields development where the road network wasn't improved to cope with the additional traffic.

Lack of sports and leisure facilities. 

A lack of a real village centre and very few shops to serve the population A population of over 5,000 could expect a better range of shops than exists.. Comment was made; "If you say to somebody I will meet you in the centre, you might never meet as there is no real centre."

Serious parking problems in the middle of the village and in outlying streets and areas.

No bank

Problems with sewers which are already overburdened. Also drainage problems.

It was agreed that there is generally a good community spirit and levels of vandalism are low, but a fear that additional housing would see more vandalism and an erosion of community spirit.

Developers trying to turn a village into a town without the facilities.

A loss of green fields and open space.

Greater support needed for the village youth club and other youth facilities.

Lack of school facilities and shortage of school places.

A litter problem.

There are no benefits in having another 1,000 house which the village doesn't want

A lack of cycle paths to allow people to cycle all the way to both Wymondham and Norwich.

Too much social housing which brings inherent problems with it.

Examples already exist in the village of the wrong type of development.

The village is being subjected to urban development in a rural setting. Design of new properties should reflect rural ethos with less density. Infilling in the village had reached its limits.

Shortage of police visibility

Shortage of play equipment on the village Memorial Playing Field.

Roads to Little Melton inadequate.

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:

Homes with good sized gardens

A green belt around the village

No new housing at all - or if this is impossible only a strictly limited or small amount of development.

More and stronger local democracy

A cycle path to Wymondham

Less traffic in the village


A proper village green and centre

Improved football and sporting facilities.

More shops to allow residents to live without having to leave the village - a more sustainable settlement.

A coherent village. Hethersett to remain a village and not become a town.

A proper old style village pub, acting as a meeting place.

A cut down on carbon emissions

A village centre on the existing High School site with a new High School built near the Village Hall. More space for the junior school

An end to loneliness with everybody feeling that they belong

A ban on Heavy Goods Vehicles in the village.

Eco friendly housing with underground heating source, solar panels


The workshop then looked at solutions and came up with the following:

Everyone to become an active member of Hethersett society with more people becoming involved in local life.

Development of an overall plan for the future to include schools, facilities, leisure. landscaping, open spacing, shops, road access and many other matters.

Sufficient finance and backing to realise dreams

Any building development to be within the context and sympathetic to existing village. An Assessment of where people will come from to move into new housing.

Build the new development somewhere else and leave the village alone.

An active parish council with stronger powers.

Setting up of a transport focus group aimed at getting people to cycle and walk whenever possible.

Creating small developments surrounded by green fields and open spaces.

Improve footpaths and more social meeting areas.

Allotments so people can become more self sufficient. A more sustainable community.

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:

The schools are already up to capacity and so something will have to be done. Particular need to expand Woodside school. Possible re-siting of the High School in the new development

The medical site is an issue. There are long waits already for routine appointments and no room to expand the existing surgery. The dental surgery is also running to capacity.

A proper village centre is needed with green land in the centre

The need for more play areas and more areas for sport with the possibility of a football ground off New Road.

Need to keep green spaces at the back of some existing developments.

Day facilities for the elderly

Possibility of a cafe style drop in centre.

Local government seems to be in total chaos

A Village Team should be set up to look at subjects as diverse as sport, horticulture, links to the University and other employers. Team to produce ideas and a new community structure through drive and enthusiasm.

The village is very attractive for professional people from the learning economy. Good partnerships and links should be set up with these. 80% of residents travel outside the village for work purpose. This is likely to rise.

Colney Lane needs to be upgraded. Cycle paths need to be improved.

The building of a new countryside park.

Try to make it possible to commute from Hethersett to work without using a car.

Young people have identified a lack of toilets and bins on the Memorial Field.

A buffer green belt between the existing village and the new development

*                         *                       *

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.

*                         *                        *

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:

"You do not represent the community, you just want to concrete over Norfolk."

"Leave Hethersett as it is. It is a vision of what country life should be. We live here and the developers do not."

"This is a dream place to live, why change it?"

"Hethersett will just become part of Norwich."

"Why don't you just build a new village from scratch and leave Hethersett alone?"

"The Government wants development but they don't want to pay for services so where will the money come from?"


The morning session once again highlighted problems in the village which included the following:

Traffic congestion

Lack of parking in the village centre

The growing demands on education, health and children's services

Traffic problems between Hethersett and Little Melton

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital already up to capacity without the proposed large influx of people in the local area.

Sewerage difficulties, drainage and flooding problems.

Lack of trees and open spaces.

Lack of a good cycle route from Hethersett to Wymondham and from Hethersett to Little Melton

Lack of leisure and sporting facilities.

A fear that there will not be enough jobs to employ people moving into the area

No central or focal point for the community

Fear that residents will feel they are not part of the community.

Car parking problems caused at school opening and closing times and general congestion in the centre of the village.

Fear that any new housing development will be too dense, cramped and lacking in space

Present schools will be unable to cope.

Fear that the correct infrastructure will not be in place to handle the new development.

Lack of green space. A green belt should be made round the village that cannot be built on to ensure that Hethersett remains separated from Norwich and Wymondham.

We will have half the population of Wymondham but nowhere near the facilities.

More people will bring more drugs and more crime into the village.


The following dreams were put forward

A sports field and proper sports club set-up

An updated and modernised youth centre

Moving the centre of the village to an area that could include picnic tables, seats etc

Ensuring that for every 15 new homes built at least one tree is planted.

A new health centre for doctors and dentists.

A country park

An eco friendly drainage system.

Making the village centre traffic free.

A pleasant village with ease of access and a new centre and safe cycle routes.


A series of workshops were held during the afternoon session and these looked at a number of areas which included the following.

Village Centre

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.

Village Team

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.

Other Ideas

A number of other ideas were put forward during the individual workshops including

Keeping the High School where it is

Building a new junior school

Building a new or expanding the current infants' school

Building a new library

Introducing new businesses, new shops and a cafe.

Building a new football stadium.

Remember if you have any comments on the development please e-mail them to the editor by clicking here.