Monday, 11 June 2012

Development - for better or worse

Lady Julian Bridge
A lot of people are soon going to get a nasty shock when they learn the latest results from the process that is looking at sites for the 30,000 new homes to be built mainly to the south of Norwich. The process has been going on for years and the gears turn exceedingly slow but another cog has now engaged. Many people are about to find that their views of green fields are going to be replaced by a building site in the next 5 years or so.

Research Park
People involved in Transition generally react with horror at the thought of yet more concrete and the roads that come with it. So do we bury our heads in the sand or try to make the best of it? Certainly there are opportunities to break the current mould and it would not be hard to improve on what has happened in the past - but do we as a society have the courage to take radical steps?

I have spent quite a lot of time over the last year talking to developers – which has led some people to condemn me for conversing with the Devil. The planners that I have talked to have often been young, currently cycling to work in London and keen to provide a living environment that they would find attractive to live in themselves. As more than one developer has pointed out – they do need people to want to buy the houses! However it seems to me that the most vocal part of society is mainly concerned with damage limitation and restricting the area of development to the minimum. Whilst I can understand this, there is a danger that facilities such as cycle paths, allotments and playing fields will be squeezed out. I’ve read planning proposals that seek to prove that the small number of shops to be provided at one new site won’t threaten existing shops – in other words people will get in their cars and drive 3 miles to a supermarket that is serviced by roads hostile to bikes in order to buy a pint of milk! This seems totally wrong to me – people should have all the facilities that they need within walking distance.

Plans for Hethersett
I feel that we are at a crossroads and that our descendants will either praise our vision or curse us for saddling them with something that is as much fun to live in as a 1960’s tower block. Jon, Simeon, Charlotte and Chris will be giving us their views during the week.

PS Check out the NDR exhibitiion set up by the Norfolk County Council (and action by Norwich Transport Action Group) at the Forum today, 9am-6pm.

Pics from the GNDP website and South Norfolk Council

1 comment:

  1. Great introduction to the week!

    Also thanks for the tip about the NDR exhibition. I had a quick look, but didn't have enough time to look at it properly, unfortunately.