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West Winch home plan could be scrapped due to Government fears over residents relying on cars

Plans for thousands of new homes could be scrapped, with officials worried how many people living there would drive cars.

The 4,000 properties are earmarked for land near West Winch, between Lynn and Downham.

But many may never be built, after government officials assessing the suitability of the site said those living in the new community would be too reliant on road transport.

An earlier-produced map showing proposed plans for the homes at West Winch
An earlier-produced map showing proposed plans for the homes at West Winch

They say the homes would be better being constructed further south, at Downham and Watlington, which both have railway stations.

The proposed West Winch homes are in part of an area designated as a ‘strategic growth corridor’, stretching from Lynn to Downham.

They had been included in West Norfolk Council’s local plan, the document which identifies areas where new housing should be built between now and 2036.

As part of the process, the government’s Planning Inspectorate scrutinise outline plans for new estates.

Government directives require new housing developments to promote walking, cycling and public transport, in order to help the UK to reduce its carbon emissions.

Karen Baker, from the inspectorate, raised concerns about the West Winch scheme in a letter to the council.

She said: “The proposed allocations in the plan would direct around 40% of housing growth to the West Winch growth area, which is likely to rely on road-based transport, with comparatively limited housing development at Downham and Watlington which, with railway stations, appear to be more sustainable locations.”

She said the council had failed to “provide a clear explanation” about why West Winch was getting so much development, questioning if the plans were sustainable.

At a council meeting this week, a barrister working for the council suggested that the authority could keep the West Winch homes in its plan simply by removing the phrase ‘growth corridor’ from the scheme and providing better evidence to support the project.

He said: “[The Planning Inspectorate was] not entirely satisfied that in certain respects your plan is sufficiently justified. They are not convinced it meets national planning guidance.

“What they have noticed is that when you look at new growth it’s mainly concentrated in West Winch and relatively little in Downham and Watlington. They think it’s odd.”

However, Green councillor Michael de Whalley rejected the barrister’s assessment.

He said: “They are concerned development in West Winch is likely to rely on car and road-based transport.

“This is not the way forward with future planning legislation.”

Labour’s Christine Hudson also criticised the plan, arguing it was not sustainable because there are not enough jobs.

Councillors at the meeting agreed to delete the ‘growth corridor’ phrase from the plan.

The council must respond to the inspectors by April 28.

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