On this page you will find the response of the Yare Valley Society to major consultations on Local Plans, Planning applications and Government Policy.
Make your voice heard
Planning for the Future – Government Consultation
The government plans to sweep away many of our planning controls as part of their “Build Build Build” strategy. Papers for the Consultation are here. The closing date is 29 October 2020.
Environmental bodies have expressed deep concern over the proposals. The Wildlife Trusts claim the new proposals will fail to protect nature. This is at a time when the National Biodiversity Network is recording a devastating wildlife loss in the UK. Nikki Williams, Director of Campaigning and Policy at The Wildlife Trusts writes:
“We live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. The White Paper proposes a planning system with three categories of land – earmarked for growth, renewal and protection – but this simplification brings the risk of creating a disconnected landscape, one in which wildlife continues to decline because nature doesn’t slot into neat little boxes. Protecting isolated fragments of land is not enough to help wildlife recover, nor will it put nature into people’s lives – something that is now recognised as vital for our health and well-being.”
The Council for the Protection of Rural England is concerned local people will lose a say on individual developments and on the future of their green space. Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive writes:
“The key acid test for the planning reforms is community involvement and on first reading, it’s still not clear how this will work under a zoning system.
Although we welcome the government’s commitment to all areas having a local plan in place, we also need robust legal guarantees that the public are consulted regarding new development. Red lines on a map are not going to build trust in the planning system.’
How do we handle this one – the big one!?
Are we prepared to lose our previous rights to respond to individual planning applications? Are we happy about the reduction in local government influence? Should Local Plans be restricted to a much-reduced form of a government template? Will the zoning proposed destroy rather than promote interconnected green space for wildlife and leisure?
The Yare Valley Society committee will be studying the documentation and formulating a response. Do not leave it to the Society alone. We all, as individuals, must respond to the consultation, highlighting the importance of expanding and enhancing interconnected green space; and emphasising its role in countering climate change, promoting biodiversity, and contributing to the well-being of our communities.
Give the government and your MP your views of these proposals
The documentation is hard going, but we hope to draw attention to the expected impact on green space of the proposals in a forthcoming article on this Consultations page.
Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) Consultation 29 January-16 March 2020 (Draft Strategy and Site Allocations)
We now have another chance to respond to a consultation on the GNLP.
The existing GNLP runs until 2026, and the new GNLP will be expected to plan for up to 2038.
The consultation has two parts. The first part is The Strategy which proposes the policies that need to be in place to plan for the future. The second part is the Sites Plan a list of sites that are seen to be suitable and necessary for development in order to implement the policies.
Links have been given to relevant documents. You can respond online, or at one of the Roadshows, or in writing. If you have any difficult in responding there is a helpline at 01603 306 603. To make a response on line you will need to register. There will be a local Consultation Roadshow at the Forum, Norwich. on 26 February and 5 March 2 – 8 pm.
The draft Greater Norwich Local Plan Strategy recognises in many of its policies the important role of green infrastructure. Most specific is Policy 3 Environmental Protection and Enhancement. In the draft Policy 3 follows the explanatory Natural Environment paragraphs 184 to 194 and Map 8 of Green Infrastructure Corridors: Of particular interest is para 191:
“The Joint Core Strategy identified the potential to create a new country park at Bawburgh Lakes to the west of Norwich. It would complement the existing country park to the east of the city at Whitlingham, with the parks linked by the Yare Valley green corridor. Its establishment remains desirable. However, the policy is not site specific as other opportunities … may be identified …”
There has long been talk of a Country Park at Bawburgh, but progress on this seems to have stalled. At present the lakes are popular with the fishing community, but there is no public right of access. There is a suggestion in para 191 that any possible funding for Bawburgh Lakes might go elsewhere. Details of the site are here. (The reference on the map to Retail/Commercial Allocation is said to be an error – but worth commenting.)
Please respond to give your support to a Country Park at Bawburgh Lakes
Draw attention to the urgent to extend access to green space in the Valley to avoid further degradation by increasing use. There is growing demand from the population of new residential developments taking place in Bowthorpe, Cringleford, Little Melton and elsewhere. The existing green space in the Valley is already under severe pressure from informal recreation (evidenced by the over worn footpaths), and this, in turn, impacts on the viability of wildlife habitats.
Ask for high priority to be given to establish a Country Park at Bawburgh Lakes, and in the interim for a policy be put in place for an extension of the Yare Valley Walk, and the management of the lakes and their surroundings to safeguard habitats and increase biodiversity.
Give it your own personal slant.
Success in the previous consultation
The response of our members to the previous site allocation consultations has borne fruit. Almost all the proposed sites for development in the Yare Valley Green Infrastructure Corridor have been classified as “unsuitable”.
A big thank you to all who wrote in objecting to the sites. A big success for the championing of our green environment!
A threat remains
Unfortunately, in the new draft of the GNLP there remains a site allocation that rings alarm bells:
UEA – Land at the Grounds Depot Site
Student Accommodation (400 beds student beds) 1.60 ha
The Yare Valley Society strongly opposes the inclusion of this site.
If you too are unhappy about the inclusion of the site respond by making your own objection, with your own personal slant and reasons. You can make a difference!
The Yare Valley Society opposes the inclusion of the site because its development would:
A Have a damaging impact on the effectiveness of Yare Valley Green Infrastructure (GI) Corridor
The proposed site is a damaging intrusion into the Yare Valley Character Area which forms an important part of the GI Corridor. The present natural flow of the edge of the Character Area along the south edge of approved university sites to along the line of the Bluebell Road is brutally interrupted by the proposed site. The site intrudes deeply into the GI Corridor.
The GI Corridor performs three important green infrastructure roles:
- Provides a variety of wildlife habitats and is a key part of the local green network for wildlife movement and promoting biodiversity.
- Provides interesting, visually attractive, and connected green space, recognised widely as essential to the well-being of communities.
- Mitigates climate change and the effects of climate change by storing water on its wetlands, retaining water in its vegetation, and acting as a carbon sink.
The Corridor is more than the sum of its parts. Any reduction in the corridor impacts on its ability to function effectively in its roles.
B Increase the existing pressure on the Yare Valley Green Infrastructure Corridor.
In all of the green infrastructure roles above the corridor is already under great pressure
Role 1: Research shows nationally that biodiversity in, and abundance of, wildlife is decreasing (see State of Nature 2019 Report) and anecdotal evidence suggests this is reflected locally.
Role 2 Many over-worn paths demonstrate the demand for informal recreation, which will only increase with the planned increases in local population (e.g. new homes at Cringleford)
Role 3 Combating and mitigating climate change is assuming ever greater importance for the well-being of future generations.
This is not the time to be damaging existing key infrastructure networks, but a time to be extending them.
C Contradict Norwich Development Management Policy
(The GNLP consultation documentation states that Norwich Development Management Policies are “to be carried forward and used in conjunction with the Greater Norwich local plan.2022-2038.”)
The site lies wholly within the Yare Valley Character Area, as defined on the Norwich Local Plan Policies Map – South, Adopted December 2014, and is accorded special status in the Norwich Local Plan Policy DM6:
“Within the Yare Valley character area, as defined on the Policies map, development will only be permitted where it would not damage the environmental quality, biodiversity or character of the area and where it is for
- agriculture or forestry purposes; or
- facilities ancillary to outdoor sport and recreation; or
- the limited extension of or alteration to existing buildings”
The inclusion of the site marks a step back from upholding the existing Norwich Local Plan Policy
D Contradict the policies of the Draft Greater Norwich Local Plan – Part 1 The Strategy
The importance of green infrastructure is rightly recognised in a number of policies in the draft GNLP Part 1 The Strategy. The policies seek to conserve and enhance the green infrastructure, the policies do not seek to destroy or degrade it.
Relevant policy statements are:
POLICY 1 – THE SUSTAINABLE GROWTH STRATEGY
“environmental protection and enhancement measures including further improvements to the green infrastructure will be delivered.”
The sustainable growth strategy will be supported by improvements to … green infrastructure…”
POLICY 2 – SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
“Development must be of high quality, … contributing to mitigating and adapting to climate change, assisting in meeting national greenhouse gas emission targets.”
POLICY 3 – ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND ENHANCEMENT
“Development proposals will be required to conserve and enhance the natural environment. Key elements of the natural environment include valued landscapes, biodiversity including priority habitats, networks and species, geodiversity, …”
“Development should deliver biodiversity net gain wherever possible”.
“To enhance the natural capital of Greater Norwich, the natural assets and connections between them which form the Green Infrastructure Network illustrated in map 8 will be protected and enhanced. Protection will be achieved through effective management of development in accordance with the policies of the development plan.”
POLICY 6 – THE ECONOMY:
“Tourism, leisure, environmental and cultural industries will be promoted and assisted by … implementation of the green infrastructure network”
POLICY 7.1 – The Norwich Urban Area including the fringe parishes:
“Growth will include …Enhancements to the green infrastructure network which include links to and within the Wensum, Yare, Tud and Tas Valleys, Marriott’s Way and from Mousehold through the north-east growth triangle as set out in map 8, along with local networks.
The inclusion of the site would suggest that Greater Norwich will not be serious about implementing its declared green infrastructure policy.
Conclusion on Sites Plan
If building development were to take place on this site it would damage the existing green infrastructure and increase pressure on the remaining green infrastructure. Such development would be completely contrary to the stated aims of the Norwich Local Plan and the draft GNLP Strategy. It would be a clear signal to developers, and the general public that Greater Norwich is not prepared to stand by its green infrastructure commitments.
Site GNLP0133-E, UEA – Land at the Grounds Depot Site, Student Accommodation (400 beds student beds) 1.60 ha should not be developed, and should be classified as “unsuitable”
Thank you for reading so far, now
Make your voice heard