Plans to shape Thetford’s future

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A blueprint for growth which will help shape the future of Thetford was approved by councillors yesterday.

Members of Breckland Council met on Thursday to consider proposals for a new growth and development framework for the district.

Once adopted, the Local Plan will set out the strategic vision and policies needed to make planning decisions in Breckland until 2036, with Thetford – Norfolk’s fourth largest settlement – earmarked as a key area for growth.

The draft document, which members of the public will have six weeks to review before it is submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination in Public, won the support of the council’s cabinet and overview and scrutiny committee earlier this month.

Identifying Thetford as one of two strategic growth locations, and as the principal retail, service and employment centre for the south of Breckland, the plan states that ‘new development will be directed to locations that are co-ordinated with transport provision, have good access to support existing services, community faculties and open space’.

Delivery of the Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE), which received outline planning approval for up to 5,000 homes, 22.5 hectares of employment land, local centres, three primary schools and playing fields in 2015, and the Thetford Enterprise Park (TEP), a key employment site with planning permission alongside the dualled A11, are expected to make important contributions towards the town’s growth, with the SUE representing the largest area of planned growth within the district.

Cllr Gordon Bambridge, Breckland’s executive member for growth, said the council’s decision marked an ‘important milestone’.

“The Plan will achieve balanced growth across the district, and Thetford’s Sustainable Urban Extension will play a key role in this, bringing in new homes and jobs to the town,” he added.

The Local Plan will also play a key part in resolving the district’s current inability to demonstrate a five year housing land supply by allowing allocations for housing development on land which is considered unsuitable at present.

Mark Robinson, a town and district councillor, said: “Having a robust Local Plan protects against speculative development. Like many other local authorities across the country, we have to work hard to deliver sustainable communities for our residents. Thetford is the gateway to Norfolk and planned growth with infrastructure will increase opportunity for the town to thrive.”