Terrington St John parish council urges infrastructure action on new homes surge
More needs to be done to ensure villages in West Norfolk can accommodate current and future housing developments, community leaders have warned.
Parish councillors in Terrington St John have called for a new focus on infrastructure needs during talks with their MP, Elizabeth Truss and senior council officials.
With thousands of new homes envisaged across the borough under its current local development plan, many villages are likely to see their populations grow over the coming years.
But borough council data presented to a meeting held on Friday morning showed that development in Terrington St John alone will increase the number of homes there by around 25 per cent.
And Colin Clifton, chairman of the village’s parish council, said: “There is a total lack of infrastructure to support this growth.
“We know we’re not unique, but we do think we are a special case.”
The village is currently in the process of developing its own neighbourhood plan, which is expected to be the subject of a local referendum later this year.
The documents, which have been pursued by a number of parishes, are intended to give communities greater influence on the planning process and should be taken into account when decisions are made.
But Mr Clifton said his authority’s views “seem to be ignored by the borough” on planning issues.
West Norfolk Council was criticised in January over plans to introduce a sifting procedure for planning applications, a move seen by critics as “undemocratic.”
However, its leader, Brian Long, rejected Mr Clifton’s argument, insisting that planning policy was the crucial issue for how decisions on schemes are reached.
He added: “If parish councils raise objections, it will be given exactly the same weight as it always has been.”
Mr Clifton was also critical of what he claimed was the inconsistent advice given by Norfolk County Council Highways officers on planning matters and suggested neighbouring parishes were facing similar issues to their own.
He said: “We’re looking for a strategic approach.”
Ms Truss offered to arrange talks between the parish council and Highways officers.
But she said the issues raised in the meeting demonstrated why the government wanted to reform the planning system.
She said nobody was happy with the rules as they currently are, adding: “We need a planning system that services the need to build homes. People don’t feel they’re in control of it.”