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New Development - Public Meeting

Over 200 people attended a public meeting in Hethersett Village Hall to oppose large scale development in the village.

MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon, district and parish councillors were present to hear villagers discuss proposals under the Greater Norwich Development Plan.

Feelings ran high as one of the organisers Phil Emery told those present that development was inevitable but local people should fight to keep it to a reasonable level and ensure that services improve.

"We have a staggering number of people here and our main purpose is to set up a steering committee and volunteers prepared to talk to people and find out their views. We should fight the plans - yes - but we have to be realistic. There is going to be development. We need to control the pace and, if there is development, we want it to be sympathetic to Hethersett," he said, adding that a disproportionate amount of additional development in South Norfolk had been earmarked for Hethersett.

"The developers have come up with a glossy brochure which is of little relevance and an attempt at bribery or blackmail about what our village could look like. It all looks wonderful but when the builders move in it will look totally different. An additional 1,000 new homes will increase the size of the village by almost a half again. Allowing for the fact that 20% of the homes will have no cars, 30% will have one car and 50% will have two cars or more will put pressure on the existing roads and nothing has been said about upgrading Henstead Road, Colney Lane and others. Where are people going to park to go to the village shops?" Mr Emery said.

Suggestions from the floor ranged from having no development at all to seriously cutting back on the proposed numbers so as not to stretch major services such as drainage and sewerage.. There was also support for a new village/town to be built on a separate site to take all the proposed new development in the area. Comments also included the problems of building new development in the near future with developers then returning to use even more land in he longer term.

South Norfolk District Councillor David Bills said that the original figure of 4,000 additional homes for the village had been scaled down to 1,000 which would be built over a 15 year period. This brought comments from the floor  that such long term development would turn the village into a building site.

The meeting, which at times threatened to get out of control, agreed that services in the village were already at "breaking point."

MP Richard Bacon said he was concerned at the amount of development along the A11 "We have to have more development but the idea of taking a corridor along the A11 seems to be wrong headed. We will have to live with the consequences of the development for many many years. I am not in favour of having major new development in Hethersett. Saying you are totally against development is not realistic but saying 4,000 houses is too many is totally realistic," he said.

"We have seen developments in the village where conditions of building them have not been met. We must make sure that whatever is built in Hethersett it doesn't look like the Poppyfields development. I do not know how that was allowed," Mr Emery said, adding that a team should be put together after the meeting of people with particular skills to fight major development.

Local resident David Frost outlined how he had fought development and been successful in one area of the village in the past: "It can be done. You should never just assume that development will go ahead," he said.

The meeting asked for a show of hands on what would be reasonable development in the village.

About one-third of those present voted for no development, a further third voted for 500 or less new homes, but nobody voted for over 1,000. In addition the majority of people felt that a figure of 60% social housing was too high.

The meeting agreed that objection letters should be drawn up and e-mails should be sent to South Norfolk District Council opposing the scale of the development.