“If there’s one thing we don’t need any more of in West Norfolk it’s new houses.” If you are one of the many people who believe we are slowly turning our lovely rural county into a sprawling mess of lifeless, faceless, featureless, ‘developments’ then read on, but if you’ve just thrown your metaphorical slippers at me, please hear me out!
This paper is full of articles and letters concerning the various proposals to throw up acres of housing estates across this bit of Norfolk and for every Nimby wittering on about the loss of their view and their bucolic dream there are others bleating about the lack of ‘affordable’ properties and the demand for decent quality homes. Both sides are wrong!
The big problem is we have councils who are under massive pressure from the Government to build more and more houses to cope with some alleged or projected future demand. They have targets to reach and failure to comply will result in various visible and invisible punishments afforded to them in the form of financial penalties. So, they are under pressure to accede to the developers’ formulaic proposals whose only interest is profit and only loyalty is to their shareholders. Believe me, when you look at the lame and tiresomely predictable names they’ll lumber these estates with, it looks for all the world like the job was ‘knocked out’ in five minutes by the office junior or is the passing whim of the MD’s girlfriend.
My town has seen this creeping plague insinuate itself on to every ragged field margin and they’ve managed to infill to such an amazingly dense level that I’m pretty sure you can pass a cuppa tea from one kitchen through the window into next door’s lounge. Some will claim that by doing this they minimise the amount of land required and although this is probably true it won’t stop them moving directly on to open farmland once they get their planning approved. Little market towns across our region are all seeing the same problems and are expressing concerns that this relentless avalanche of new builds is destroying the individuality and character of the area. Nobody further up the food chain listens or cares it seems and until the Government targets are reached my guess is the ‘permissions to build’ will inexorably ramp up year on year.
Infrastructure suffers in this race to build and despite the developer’s statements about building a mixture of affordable AND executive housing to try to appeal to local objectors and residents, the one thing never mentioned is where these incomers will go when they need a doctor or where they’ll find school places for their children?
Once built, these blocks of computer designed ‘country style’ houses crammed along either side of narrow tarmacked corkscrew roads will never be removed or changed and, like clumsy tattoos, will be with us until hell freezes over.