Agenda item

Breckland Local Development Framework: Site Specifics Policies and Proposals - Proposed Preferred Sites for Swaffham and Narborough

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.


It is proposed to present the report in three parts with the following approximate timings, to enable any non-members wishing to attend only for a particular area to do so.


09.30am – 09.40am – Introduction

09.40am – 11.00am – Proposals for Swaffham

11.15am – 12.30pm – Proposals for Narborough



Members are kindly requested to bring to the meeting their copies of the Site Specific Policies and Proposals Issues and Options Consultation document (orange cover) and Additional Sites Consultation Spring 2009 (purple cover) for reference.



The Principal Planning Policy Officer presented the report and sought Members’ views on the Preferred and Reasonable Alternative sites. 


Over 130 sites had been put forward, which could deliver up to 123,000 homes.  However, within the Core Strategy, there was only an identified need for 1,400 homes and 2,700 jobs in the District.


The site classifications were clarified.  The Preferred Options were those which would sustain growth with the least issues and challenges.  Alternative Reasonable Options were capable of delivering development but were less sustainable and had more issues, eg delivery problems or landscape restraints.  Unreasonable Sites were those considered to be undeliverable due to issues such as access restrictions, contamination and policy objections.




The task in Swaffham was to provide new land for 250 homes to be built up to 2026 (in addition to any sites with existing planning permission) and to provide about five hectares of land for between 300-650 jobs.


The following background information was provided:


·                    there was no strategic sewer network serving the west of the town

·                    employment areas were largely focussed to the north near to the EcoTech Centre

·                    there were good local transport links (bus)

·                    no major river flooding, but some local sewer flooding in the Sporle Road area

·                    limited land available within the town

·                    an existing permission for 414 new houses on the former Redland Tile site (which explained the low allocation of new homes)

·                    landscaping issues included the Brecks to the west and south and the stone curlew buffer to the south.


Mr F Sharpe left the room at this point in the presentation.


Unreasonable Sites (Appendix A)


Members were asked if they had any objection to the sites included in the list.


The Chairman asked if the update to the Proposals map, concerning Site reference (097)020 should be agreed at this stage.


The Principal Planning Officer suggested that this should be discussed in more detail at a later session.  The land was in private ownership and the proposal suggested the release of land around the Manor House for residential development in exchange for securing the Antinghams as Public Open Space.  As the Manor House was a listed building this suggestion was not considered suitable.




Members endorsed the list of Unreasonable Sites, as contained in Appendix A.


Preferred Allocations in Swaffham


Members were then shown a slide show with maps and photographs and an overview of each site.


SW1: Land to the East of Brandon Road and North of the old Redland Tiles Site


The promoters of the site had suggested that it could also accommodate a local neighbourhood centre.


A member was concerned that 250 houses in addition to the 414 already approved would cause congestion unless proposals were put forward to improve the roads.  He also noted that a sewer would have to be put in too.


The Highway Authority had advised that access proposals would have to be looked at carefully to ensure the free movement of traffic.  The site was well related to local schools and would therefore provide the opportunity for pupils to walk or cycle, alleviating problems at school pick-up and drop-off times.  It was also suggested that any release of further land presented an opportunity to improve the internal bus service.


There was already a main sewer in the area which drainage could connect to.  The final details of the water cycle study were still being worked on but Anglian Water had agreed the levels of development.


Another Member commented on the existing traffic problems in the town and thought that it would not be sensible to put all the development in one place.


His comments were noted.  The Principal Planning Policy Officer said that this site was considered suitable as it was already bordered on three sides by development and the Highway Authority had raised no objection.  When other sites were considered it would be important to look at their relationship to services.


SW2: Land to the North of the Ecotech Centre


A previous outline permission for a swimming pool on the site had expired and no objections had been raised to employment use during the consultation phase.


A Member asked if it would still be possible to accommodate a swimming pool on the site and was advised that it would be a departure from the plan and good evidence would be needed to prove that it would not harm the long-term business prospects and that no better site was available elsewhere.


The proximity to the wind turbine was also questioned but there was no evidence to suggest that this would affect the use and existing employment was already close to the turbine.


SW3: Land to the West of the Ecotech Employment Area


The Chairman questioned the deliverability of the site as there would be so many landowners involved.  It was agreed that it would be a challenge but the evidence pointed to businesses wanting to be near the Ecotech Centre.  If the site did not come forward, other alternatives could be looked at later.


Reasonable Alternative Options in Swaffham


SW4: Residential Allocation of Land to the West of Brandon Road


A Member suggested that in its favour the site would benefit from the new roundabout to serve the Redland Tile site which would give excellent access.


This was acknowledged, but the other objections still stood.


SW5: Residential Allocation of Land to the South East of Cley Road


The Chairman noted that this site would have poor access to schools.


SW6: Residential Allocation of Land to the North of Beachamwell Road


A Member sought clarification of the Town Council’s comments as they had not objected to residential development.


Originally the site had been promoted in two parcels for mixed residential and recreational use.  The Town Council considered that residential development of the smaller parcel of land was acceptable but that development of the whole site would be too much for that part of the town.


Another Member supported the Highway Authority’s objection, saying that the Beachamwell Road was too small to accommodate additional traffic.


SW7: Residential Allocation of Land to the South of Lynn Road


This site has also come forward as two parcels of land, part farmland and part allotments.  The allotments belonged to the Town Council and had been de-regulated.


A Member sought clarification that access for the whole site would be from Lynn Road and not through the adjacent residential development, and this was confirmed.


It was suggested that development of this site might balance the traffic and make the site more viable.  It was also noted that pedestrian access via a footpath along Lynn Road or alternatively using a track to Shouldham Lane.  However, the site was still constrained by the lack of strategic sewer provision.


SW8 Residential Allocation of Land to the West of Cley Road


The Town Council had supported this site but asked for a car park to be included to serve the adjacent recreation ground.


A Member asked if the local high schools had the capacity to accommodate the additional numbers and this was confirmed.  Contributions would be sought to improve the facilities at existing primary schools.


SW9: Residential  Allocation of Land to the North of Norwich Road


A Member was concerned that this site was too close to the wind turbine and thought that residential development should be a minimum of 650 metres away.  The Principal Planning Policy Officer advised that although the Council had prepared a Supplementary Planning Document in which the suggested buffer was one kilometre, the document had never been formally approved.  Current government guidance looked favourably on renewable energy even close to residential development, and he pointed out that there was already some existing development closer to the turbine.


Another Member suggested that a buffer zone was needed between this site and the A47 due to noise.


SW10: Residential Allocation of Land to the North of Norwich Road


There had been a number of comments in relation to this site and the Town Council supported it but not in isolation, only as part of a wider package.


It was noted that part of the site was brownfield.


SW11: Residential Allocation of Land to the South of Norwich Road


A Member asked if there were drainage problems on this site and was advised that there was no evidence of any from the Flood Risk Assessment or the Water Cycle Study.


SW12: Residential Allocation of Land to the South of North Pickenham Road


No comments made.


SW13: Employment Allocation of Land to the North of the A47


Part of this site had existing employment use and Members considered it should stay as that.  One Member suggested it would be an ideal site for less neighbour-friendly uses, such as distribution.  The Principal Planning Policy Officer agreed but said there would be concerns re loss of trees if the existing employment use was extended.


The Chairman then asked the Principal Planning Policy Officer to clarify the meaning of phased development to the members of the public present.  It was explained that although the Council was looking to release land for 250 houses this was to cover the period until 2026. 


Even if the allocation was all on one site, market forces would regulate the development to approximately 50 houses at any one time.  There was an opportunity to introduce phasing requirements under the LDF, but as the Council did not have the required five year housing land supply it needed, some sites might need to come forward sooner.  Even then, delivery would be controlled to minimise impact on infrastructure.


The Chairman then invited Mr Bishop from the Town Council to make comments.


Mr Bishop said his comments came direct from public consultation and also a recent Town Council meeting where the options had been discussed.


SW1 was supported with the recommendation that it was reduced to 150 houses.  The town would be better served if the housing was split with SW9.


Concerns included:


·                    impact on traffic which was already a problem and would be made worse by the Redland Tile site development

·                    distance from services (1km to the doctors and more than 2kms to the employment area and the A47)

·                    impact on sewers


If the number was reduced it was hoped that there would still be sufficient development to provide Public Open Space as there was a shortfall in the town.


SW2 and 3


The Town Council mainly agreed with the comments made and supported the recommendation.  They owned part of the SW2 site and had an option on the site to allow for the swimming pool development.  They did not agree that this would affect the economy as there were diverse uses on the site already.


SW4 and 5


The Town Council opposed these sites for the reasons given.


SW6 and SW8


More suitable sites were available for small allocations of houses.




The Town Council would support this site if the development allocation was higher.  They accepted that the gas pipeline had an effect but they believed more houses could be accommodated there.




The Town Council strongly supported the development of the parcels of land furthest from the road (032 and 010) which they believed could accommodate 100 dwellings.  The arguments against this site could be countered.  It was almost adjacent a large supermarket, the employment area and the A47 and was only two kilometres from schools.  It would be natural infill and if the remaining area of land (016) was not developed this would provide a buffer.  The water table was known to have dropped in the area and so drainage problems could be overcome.


SW10, 11 and 12


There was general support for east-west development but there were more suitable sites available.  It was not felt that the reasons against them were strong, but the Town Council had no objection to not including them.




The Town Council could not understand why this site had not been included as employment land.  It had good access to the A47 and the A1065.


Finally with reference to the Unreasonable Site at 097/020, the Town Council would support the updating of the Proposals Map as they were short of Public Open Space and they thought it would send the right message to developers.


A Member of the Task & Finish Group asked Mr Bishop why the Town Council was putting forward allotment land for development if they were short of Public Open Space.


Mr Bishop explained that they were short of Public Open Space in built up areas.  They had retained 17½ acres of allotment land and had sufficient to accommodate their needs.


A Member noted that the Swimming Pool Association had spent a number of years trying to find a suitable site and there was nowhere else.  He hoped that part of SW2 could be retained for that purpose.


Mr Bishop agreed and said that they had gone through an extensive process to determine the best place for a swimming pool.  Now it was down to the Swimming Pool Association to get the project up and running.  The Town Council would support it.  He said that the designation of that piece of land should be diverse enough to accommodate the pool.


A Member was concerned that the junction improvements needed for site SW9 might be too great a financial burden on the developers if 100 houses were allowed there.


The Principal Planning Policy Officer reiterated that SW1 was the recommended preferred site for all 250 houses.  If that number was reduced it might affect the deliverability of benefits to improved linkages and the provision of a neighbourhood centre.  If only 150 dwellings were put on the site it would leave the Redland Tile site divorced from the rest of the town.


He agreed that putting 100 units on sites 032 and 010 of SW9 would overcome the issue of proximity to the A47 but the Highway Authority had concerns about the junction with Sporle Road and Castle Acre Road, which might need re-aligning.  The associated costs might mean that 100 homes would not be viable.


Mr Bishop pointed out that those comments had been made in relation to the development of 250 houses on the site, not just 100.


The Chairman asked what impact the inclusion of the swimming pool would have – would it mean that SW3 would come forward as well?  The Development Services Manager confirmed that if SW2 was taken up faster than expected it could lead to SW3 coming forward earlier.


Another Member asked whether the two acres taken up by the pool could be accommodated on SW13 if there was a shortfall of employment space and this was accepted as a possibility.  Another Member said that it would be a shame to lose the trees on that site as they helped to filter emissions from the A47.




Most of the recommendations were agreed with.  Two options should be put forward to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, they were:


  1. SW1 as presented; and
  2. A split between SW1 and SW9, with 150 homes to SW1 and 100 homes to SW9.




The Senior Planning Policy Officer explained that land for approximately 50 homes was sought in Narborough.  The village comprised two distinct parcels of land; the northern area around the River Nar contained the historic buildings and the southern area had more recent development.  It was in the south that the majority of representations had been made.


Unreasonable Sites (Appendix A)


Members had no objection to the sites included in the list.


Preferred Option


NAR 1: Land West of Chalk Lane


As there was a limited quantum of development it was felt that the best opportunity to deliver homes and community benefits was to use a single option.


A Member thought this was a good site but was worried about the access from the road, which was a direct route to Marham and very busy.


The Senior Planning Policy Officer explained that there was a speed limit on the road and if development was approved it was likely that this would be extended.


Preferred Alternative Options


NAR 2: Residential Allocation off Meadow Road


No comments were made.


NAR 3: Residential Allocation South of Swaffham Road


No comments were made.


Mr Williams, representing the Parish Council, said that NAR 1 fitted well with the village and the new community centre.  The road junction was a concern and would need improving, but overall the Parish Council accepted the option.


NAR 2 was also supported as the land would support the amenity of the village although it was accepted that it could only accommodate 25 houses.


NAR 3 would not be any advantage to the village and would not improve capacity. 


The Parish Council would like to see the alternative site, NAR 2, explored.  It already contained some buildings and would be a good site to expand on to.  Part of the site was owned by the church and social housing was proposed there.




The Task and Finish Group supported the officer’s recommendations.


Supporting documents: