Approval has been given for a 5,000 house extension to the north of Thetford despite concerns over the lack of affordable housing it will provide.
The Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) proposed by Kilverstone Estate, The Crown Estate and Pigeon (Thetford) Ltd includes up to 5,000 homes, 22.5 hectares of employment land, local centres, three primary schools and playing fields.
It was approved by Breckland Council’s planning committee this afternoon. The decision was proceeded by presentations and questions from the applicant, members of the public, local figures and councillors.
Simon Wood, regional planning and building manager for Breckland Council told those gathered that 8.5 per cent of the development was earmarked for affordable housing to ensure its financially viability.
He said: “Affordable housing is seen as a bar, rightly or wrongly, to bringing development forward therefore local authorities have to be realistic in regard to their expectations.”
Breckland Council’s Affordable Housing Policy states that 40 per cent of the total number of built units on the site of all qualifying housing developments must be affordable.
Tweeting during the meeting Thetford Town Councillor Terry Jermy described the lack of affordable housing planned as ‘absurd’.
Concerns were also raised that the development would create a satellite town to the detriment of the existing town centre.
Stuart Wilson spoke at the meeting representing the views of the Thetford Society.
He said: “If these are built then the present imbalance, where services like the leisure centre, the healthy living centre, the academy and the innovation centre are all north of the town, will be made worse.
“The present town centre would be marginalised.”
Other issues raised included health provision, utility provision, transport links and the appearance of the development.
The area covered by SUE is 285 hectares of land bordering Mundford Road and Kilverstone Road and including land between Norwich Road and Croxton Road.
It is anticipated that the development would be built in five phases over a 20-25 year period.
Developers would be expected to contribute more than £150 million to provide the infrastructure to mitigate the pressure of the development.
This would fund improvements to road and transport links, three primary schools, £4.79 million for Thetford Academy, health and community facilities, allotments and sports and open space.
Will Van Cutsem, Director of Pigeon, told those gathered that the scheme would attract employers to the area and create 5,000 permanent jobs as well as 25,000 construction roles.
He said further reviews of the project’s viability would be carried out and if the market improved levels of affordable housing may also increase.
The proposal was approved with 10 votes for and one against.
For a full report see Friday’s Bury Free Press.