Town’s future a step closer

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MAJOR plans to transform Thetford could be confirmed this week after more than 800 comments were received from the public.

If Breckland Council approves the Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) on Thursday, the final document will be passed to government inspectors for a final examination.

The plan lays out the growth and regeneration of Thetford for the next 15 years, with massive investment and redevelopment anticipated including 5,000 new homes.

In a report to Breckland Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, David Spencer, principal planning policy officer, said a public consultation carried out from January to March had received 862 responses from 150 different people or organisations.

Mr Spencer said the TAAP aims were broadly supported by the public, but concerns over how it will be put into action have been raised. As a result, a number of changes to the original draft document have been made.

He said: “The test for the Thetford Area Action Plan is whether there is a reasonable prospect that the plan can be delivered. It does not have to provide exhaustive detail on precise delivery and viability.”

The main focus of attention in the TAAP was on the regeneration of the town centre and the bus centre redevelopment.

Mr Spencer said that residents were ‘disappointed’ at the current state of the town centre.

He said: “There was a general feeling that the town has been left to diminish in quality.

“This led to great support for the town centre masterplan although it was obvious that residents wanted this completed as soon as possible and the changes implemented.”

The controversial plans for the bus station’s relocation saw 62 per cent of people reject the proposal. Only eight per cent were in favour of the move, with 30 per cent making other comments on the policy.

Despite the opposition, the plans remain in the TAAP submission document.

Further areas of interest included changes to the A11/Brandon Road junction and the impact it would have on nearby protected areas.

Comments were also made on the impact of the 1,500m Stone Curlew Buffer which surrounds the town, with Breckland saying it could not consider alternative plans for growth within that area.

n Developers enter planning application for 5,000-home development to the north of Thetford. Full story – Page 33.