Only allocate new housing where services can be reached on foot or by public transport

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We call upon the bodies currently drafting the Greater Norwich Local Plan to only allocate new housing developments in places where shops, schools, employment areas and other services can be reached on foot or by frequent public transport, and to oppose the dispersal of new housing across rural areas.

Background

The Greater Norwich Local Plan is at a key point in its development. The consultation, which runs until 15th March 2018, includes various options which would increase the area's reliance on the private car as the primary mode of transport, locking us into a high-carbon future, expensive road-building, and negative health impacts. As well as signing this petition, we encourage as many people as possible to put in their own responses to the consultation, at www.gnlp.org.uk.

Private car use for everyday travel means:

  • Lots of traffic, making journey times longer, and parking spaces harder to find
  • Air pollution, which causes respiratory problems and early deaths (it is estimated that air pollution contributes to 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK*)

  • Risks to pedestrians, particularly the disabled, the elderly and children, who find it difficult to cross busy roads

  • A less cycle-friendly road environment

  • Parking problems for residents – particularly in parts of the city which have free on-street car parking, and that commuters use whilst they are at work or shopping

  • Spending council funds on huge road-building projects, which end up going over budget†, and which could be better spent improving public transport infrastructure, cycle facilities, pedestrian crossings and road safety features

  • High CO2 emissions, leading to global warming and climate change

Homes close to jobs and services

Development is most sustainable when it is concentrated near services like schools, shops and employment, so that residents can walk, cycle or use public transport to get around.  We therefore oppose Strategic Growth Options 4, 5 and 6, which all propose dispersing development in small villages and the countryside, rather than only allowing development which has access to local services.

We also support a Norwich centred policy (Consultation question 26). The demand for housing is largely driven by Norwich’s economy, and therefore housing growth ought to be concentrated where it has public transport or cycling access to places of employment in Norwich, to prevent reliance on commuting by private car.

Protecting small villages from overdevelopment

The current ‘settlement hierarchy’ defines six different categories of settlement: Norwich Urban Area; Main Towns; Key Service Centres; Service Villages; Other Villages; and Smaller Rural Communities and the Countryside. This hierarchy is used to determine what level of development is acceptable in each place.

Option SH2 in the consultation would combine Rural Communities and the Countryside, Other Villages (which have virtually no services) and Service Villages (which have just a few services) into one category of ‘Village Clusters’. The aim of this is to allow large-scale building in the countryside, with no need to ensure services are available within walking distance. This means new residents will have to drive to towns and cities, clogging up roads, increasing pollution, and increasing CO2 emissions. We strongly oppose this option.

By retaining six categories within the settlement hierarchy (option SH1), we can protect rural villages that are not big enough to support an increased population from overdevelopment.

Transport

There is only one option for Transport within the consultation document: to “Broadly continue the current approach”.  We believe there should be another option which focuses on reducing the need to travel long distances, by taking a spatial strategy approach where services are accessible on foot. Where journeys are needed that cannot be made on foot or by bike, public transport options should always be available. The plan should support strategic public transport improvements (Question 34 in the consultation) including a Bus Rapid Transit network, better access to rail stations and even opening new rail stations.

 

Making this happen

This petition will be supported by technical responses to the consultation from Norwich Green Party, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (Norfolk branch), Climate Hope Action In Norfolk (CHAIN) and Friends of the Earth Norwich, which will demonstrate some of the details of how the Local Plan can help tackle these issues.  However, this will be strengthened by as many people as possible putting in their own views about how the plan will affect them. Provide your response online at www.gnlp.org.uk

More information about our campaign can be found at www.gnlp-watch.org.uk.

 

* UK air pollution 'linked to 40,000 early deaths a year' http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35629034

† Final bill for Norwich Northern Distributor Road could top £200m says council leader - which could mean a £25m overspend http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/final-bill-for-norwich-northern-distributor-road-could-top-200m-says-council-leader-which-could-mean-a-25m-overspend-1-5235563



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