Proposed building development on Colney Hall Estate in the Yare Valley

The Colney Hall estate lies to the south of Bawburgh Lakes and west of Bowthorpe Southern Park. It is a key contributor to the landscape character and biodiversity of the Valley. Access to the estate is from the B1108 Watton Road.

An outline planning application for part of the Estate, with all matters reserved except access, has been submitted to South Norfolk District Council for a retirement living community of up to 210 extra care units with associated communal facilities, a 20 bed care home, an Innovation Centre to include; academic spaces, flexible office/ research and development spaces and administration offices and 20 student resident 6-bed flats and all matters reserved except for access.

Details of the development can be found at South Norfolk Planning by searching under reference 2022/1547.

A good start point is under the documents tab: Landscape & visual appraisal.

This is a major development on an environmentally sensitive site in the Yare Valley. The site lies outside of the areas approved for development in the Greater Norwich Local Plan. South Norfolk District Council Policies are also in force that are intended to safeguard the green landscape around Norwich, in particular Policy DM 4.5 Landscape Character and River Valleys, and Policy DM 4.6 Landscape Setting.

The Yare Valley Society committee is seriously concerned about this threat to build on the green space of the valley. The development can expect to impact on the visual landscape and biodiversity of the valley, and the effectiveness of the valley corridor in mitigating the effects of climate change (e.g. by reducing flooding downstream).

More about the development can be found in the YVS October 2022 Newsletter.

Please add your voice to that of the Yare Valley Society by writing in to South Norfolk District Council Planning Department giving your own personal view on this proposed development in the green space of the Valley.

Update: Technically the deadline for responses has now passed, but the South Norfolk Planning Department have assured YVS that comments will continue to be accepted up to the time of determination of the application. Please submit your comments ASAP.

Information about Outline Planning Applications

This is an outline planning application with all matters reserved except access. Applications of this kind can be used as a way of establishing the principle of development on a site, without committing to the precise nature of the development.

If Outline Planning Permission is granted further detail of the reserved matters must be agreed at a later stage. This means detail in the application could change, including the development’s appearance, landscaping, layout and scale. For more information see the National Planning Portal at

Time to respond to McCarthy Stone Phase 3 Planning Application!

It would have been nice to report the latest planning application for the McCarthy Stone development on Bluebell Road was a model of best practice development in an ecological sensitive area. Unfortunately the proposals in the application are far from such a model.

Foreground Phase 2 development, background (beyond fence) Phase 3 site

On a first look through the application, some concerns are:

Dwelling Density

The high dwelling density of the development and its design will have a serious visual impact on the landscape of the valley and will degrade environmental assets within and adjacent to the site. The high dwelling density should be reduced.

Policy R42 of the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) envisaged the number of dwellings for the whole of the Bartram’s Site as being “… in the region of 120 dwellings. This figure is based on an assumption that the site will be developed mainly at low densities to ensure that impact on the landscape is minimised”. The GNLP aim was to “minimise impact on the landscape of the Yare Valley and important views”, and for the development to “protect and enhance environmental assets within and adjacent to the site”.

McCarthy and Stone in their latest Phase 3 application are proposing to build 100 dwellings in Phase 3 alone. These will be added to those of Phase 1 (61) and Phase 2 (50) resulting in a total of 211, almost double the number of 120 envisaged in the GNLP. These high densities can be expected to have a detrimental effect on the environment, both visually and ecologically. The proposals breach seriously the dwelling density safeguard of the GNLP.

Location, size and design of Infiltration “Pond”

(N.B. “Pond” is something of a misnomer here, since for much of the time it can be expected to be dry. Basin might be a better name)

The Public Access green space that formed part of Phase 2, should not be degraded by a the insertion of a large infiltration basin. Any such basin should be incorporated within the original site area for phase 3.

While accepting that that an infiltration basin is necessary to reduce runoff into the river and limit flooding downstream, little attention seems to be given to reducing the basin size by a greater use of water permeable surfaces of drives, parking areas etc., and by use of rainwater harvesting within the site. Further reduction in runoff could be achieved by reducing the dwelling density, by retaining more of the existing vegetation, and by increasing the area of planted green space in the proposals. At the same time the site’s ecology would be improved.

Little indication is given of the design of the “Pond”. Properly designed infiltration basins can be made available for public access, and can be planted with trees, shrubs and other plants, improving their visual appearance and providing habitats for wildlife.

Many mature and semi-mature trees will be removed from the site

Ecological Gain

The UK biodiversity is generally acknowledged as being in catastrophic decline. More needs to be done on this site to enhance biodiversity and provide some “ecological gain”

McCarthy Stone’s own Ecological Report makes a number of recommendations for ecological enhancement. These include “Removal of existing trees on site should be avoided were possible” and “Removal of the existing hedgerows on the site should be avoided where possible and kept to a minimum if unavoidable” The proposals include the removal of most of the relatively mature trees and shrubs in contradiction of Ecological Report’s recommendations. The site tree survey suggests that many trees are not perfect specimens, but they are established, (important in drought conditions), and considerably more mature than any that are likely to be planted as part of the development.

Please take a critical look at and respond to the plans at, using application number 22/00298/F and selecting the Documents tab. The Layout Plan, Tree Survey and Ecological Report are good start points. Comment by 24th August 2022.

Your comment is essential if these proposals are to be improved.

Yare Valley Society declares GNLP unsound

The Yare Valley Society is objecting to the GNLP on the grounds of the Plan being unsound in respect of two of its policies:

Policy GNLP0133DR: Land between Suffolk Walk and Bluebell Road

Policy GNLP0133-E: Land at the UEA Grounds Depot Site, Bluebell Road University of East Anglia.

See Consultations page for more details.

Next Phase of Local Plan Consultations

The Greater Norwich Local Plan will go forward for a six week Regulation 19 publication period, which will start at 09.00 on Monday 1 February 2021 and close at 17.00 on Monday 15 March 2021.  No representations will be accepted outside of this period. See Consultations.

Widespread opposition to Government White Paper Proposals

A big thank you to all who responded to the Yare Valley Society call to respond to the Government’s White Paper “Planning for the Future” Consultation. It was not an easy undertaking. The consultation ended on 29 October.

Another thank you if your added your name to the CPRE (Council for the Preservation of Rural England) petition against some of the key proposals.

The YVS committee saw the government’s proposals as a major attack on local democracy and a threat to the ability of the YVS and its members to safeguard the green space of the Yare Valley in the future.

We are not alone.

On 8th December the CPRE with other campaigners headed to Westminster, to hand in 310,265 signatures calling for the government to stop its “disastrous plans” to change our planning laws.

The CPRE writes:

“We commissioned a poll of MPs and found that over half of Conservative MPs weren’t happy with the proposals – the same proposals that had come from their own party! So it came as no surprise to us to see a fiery debate in the House of Commons where 46 MPs spoke out against the plans – and even more wanted to, but the debate simply ran out of time.

Of these 46 MPs publicly voicing their unhappiness with the suggested changes, a huge 33 were from the Conservative Party – including former Prime Minister Theresa May. The issues that they were raising were just as we’ve been saying for many months: that the plans would lead to building on green spaces near to where people live (the very local green spaces that have been so important to so many of us during the pandemic year); that fewer homes that people could actually afford to live in would be built; and that the chances for people to get involved in shaping the future of where they live would be eroded.

And it’s not just the government’s own MPs who have problems with the plans. Organisations from across the environmental, housing and planning sectors have come together to say a big NO to the existing proposals. We were one of more than 30 groups who sent a letter to the Prime Minister warning of the disastrous impacts on nature and people if he dismantled the planning system.”

YVS will be looking for a positive response from the government to address the concerns raised. If it fails to do so YVS will be asking members to take action again.

Yare Valley Society responds to “Planning for the Future”

The Yare Valley Society response to the consultation on the Government’s White Paper on the future of Planning can now be read on the Consultation Page.

Do not leave it to the Society alone. Please make your personal response to the consultation. More information on how to do this is on the Consultation Page.

Don’t forget to sign the Council for the Protection of Rural England’s (CPRE’s) petition


CPRE says “Don’t let the government deregulate planning”

Sign the Petition

The Council for the Protection of Rural England is calling on all of us to take action on the Government plans “Planning for the Future”

 “The government has devised some new plans that could pose a huge risk to the countryside and the communities living and working within it. 

Ministers want to take decision-making powers away from communities and local councils, handing it over to housing developers and central powers in Westminster.   

Under these new proposals, our ability to shape the future of where we live – a right communities have had for 70 years – could be lost with the stroke of a pen.” 

The Government plans are a serious threat to our ability to protect the Yare Valley from development in the future. The Yare Valley Society Committee urges you to sign the CPRE Petition to be found here.

This is only a tiny step to expressing opposition to the Government’s proposals. Please respond to the current consultation on the proposals. See Consultations for details.


Yare Valley Society is saying KEEP OUR VALLEY GREEN in a campaign to promote participation in the latest Local Government consultation on the Greater Norwich Local Plan. The consultation will run from the 29 January to the 16 March 2020. It will be available on line, but you can make a paper response if you wish. A number of CONSULTATION ROADSHOWS will take place. The Yare Valley Society has put up Posters on Noticeboards in the Yare Valley area to ask those who care for the valley to:

Say what you like, say what you don’t like in the


Question the intrusion of building development into the Yare Valley Green Space adjacent to Bluebell Road, Norwich.     (Site GNLP 0133 – E) 

Find information at the GNLP website, and Yare Valley Society comments on the consultation.

Tell your friends.

*Consultation Roadshows local to the Yare Valley are at:                            Cringleford Willow Centre, Tuesday 4 February 2 – 8 pm                              Costessey Centre, 13 February 2 – 8 pm                                                                    Norwich, The Forum, 26 February and 5 March 2 – 8 pm                                      North Wymondham Community Centre, 14 February 2 – 8 pm                             

For a full list of the roadshows go here.