The Artful Codger, February 27, 2015: A recipe for chaos

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Good to see Lynn Civic Society wading into the growing furore over in-fill development that is threatening to turn Lynn into one massive blob of housing.

We all appreciate the problems that West Norfolk Council have in finding suitable land to build the thousands of homes we are told the town desperately needs in the years ahead, but their unimaginative approach to finding a reasonable solution has rightly drawn criticism from every direction.

I can fully understand the council’s critics on this one. If they are allowed to get it wrong on such an enormous scale, the long-term implications for the town are massive. Once the green fields around Lynnsport have been covered over with houses, they will effectively be lost forever. There will be no going back, except at considerable cost.

The Civic Society’s chairman, Alison Gifford, points out that it is not only at Lynnsport, but in the town in general that open spaces are being built over at an alarming rate, much to the detriment of the appearance of the town, as well as the loss of amenities to local residents.

It is the whole fabric of Lynn as a nice place to live and work that is being eroded.

And it is not just Lynn. The alarm bells are ringing louder and louder at Heacham and Hunstanton where there are big housing developments proposed. And what is the response of the ruling group on the council? Pretty much nothing – although they did make quite a fuss over lowering the number of houses proposed for Lynnsport and Marsh Lane.

Even in this case, their seemingly generous gesture is unlikely to cut much ice. In the view of local residents and critics, it merely takes the proposed number of houses down from “Utterly Ridiculous” to “Very Unacceptable.”

Just who or what decrees the number of houses that are to be built? If it is central government, then they should be held to account to earmark suitable areas for development that are acceptable to the majority of the local population, and to provide the roads infrastructure BEFORE a brick is laid.

It’s up to them to do rather more than simply decree that X number of houses is to be built without ensuring this is a feasible option. The present set-up is a developer’s charter. Perhaps the developers have more clout with the present government than the ordinary people do.

What is clear is that over the past two or three decades there has been a shameful lack of investment in the country at large by central government, resulting in the present mess, which leaves local councils such as West Norfolk facing unenviable choices with little room for manoeuvre.