Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about the Local Plan Process
A local plan sets out a vision for the future growth of an area. It has to tie in with Government policy, regional and local strategies for the economy, transport etc. A local plan includes strategic planning policies to guide development, and identifies sites for new homes, jobs and infrastructure. It sets out what is going to be developed, where it will happen and how it will be achieved. Once adopted, a local plan is used when decisions on planning applications are made in the area it covers.
The Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) is being produced by Broadland District Council, Norwich City Council and South Norfolk Council working together with Norfolk County Council through the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP). The Broads Authority is also part of the GNDP but produces a separate local plan.
Plans must be kept up to date and Government suggests a review is required at least every five years. They should plan ahead for at least 15 years. The current local plans, which include the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) and separate site allocations documents for the area, were adopted at various times between 2011 and 2016. They include policies which require an early review to be undertaken. Local plans take some time to produce, and therefore the evidence we produced for the JCS is now out of date. We are expecting the GNLP to be examined by a planning inspector in 2020, and hoping each local authority will be able to adopt it later that year. The current plans look to 2026; the new GNLP will plan to 2036.
The Government requires local authorities to make a local plan, and also to have a five year supply of housing land. Having a local plan helps towards achieving a supply of housing land, as some housing allocations can be counted in the supply. However, if an authority doesn’t have a housing land supply, developers can make a strong case for applications on land which is not in the local plan. In some places, there has been a lot more housing permitted than the last local plan identified. The GNLP will make every effort to address this issue. If we identify more land for homes in a new local plan it will give us more control over where growth should go, and reduce the chances of applications being granted on other sites.
The GNLP will:
- contain a vision and objectives for the area and strategic policies;
- identify land for a range of uses, such as housing, employment, leisure, and retail;
- identify land that should be protected from development; and
- outline how we will monitor the plan’s effectiveness.
No decisions have been made yet on where the additional growth needed to 2036 (for 7,200 additional homes) will go. The responses to the consultation and other evidence will help us to make these decisions. Sites for around 35,700 homes are already identified in the existing local plans or have planning permission. This is 83% of the sites needed for the period to 2036 (in total for around 42,900 homes).
We have received evidence on housing need; economic growth; strategic flood risk; caravans and houseboats needs; a habitats regulations assessment and a housing viability study. We have sought views from a variety of consultees on the suitability of sites proposed to us, and have had meetings and workshops with stakeholders including transport, water, electricity, health and education providers, developers and parish councils. A sustainability appraisal is an important part of plan production. We may need further evidence as the plan progresses.
Yes these will take place:
- 22 Jan (2pm-8pm) Brundall Memorial Hall, NR13 5LL
- 23 Jan (10am-4pm) The Forum, Norwich, NR2 1TF
- 25 Jan (2pm-8pm) Aylsham Town Hall, NR11 6EL
- 26 Jan (2pm-8pm) Acle Recreation Centre, NR13 3RA
- 29 Jan (10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm) Harleston Library, IP20 9AW
- 30 Jan (2pm-8pm) Diss Corn Hall, IP22 4LB
- 1 Feb (2pm-8pm) Cringleford Willow Centre, NR4 7JJ
- 2 Feb (2pm-8pm) Costessey Town Council Offices, NR8 5AH
- 5 Feb (10am-4pm) The Forum, Norwich, NR2 1TF
- 6 Feb (2pm-8pm) Bob Carter Centre, Drayton, NR8 6DW
- 8 Feb (2pm-8pm) Horsford Village Hall, NR10 3DN
- 9 Feb (12pm-6pm) Rackheath Village Hall, NR13 6LT
- 12 Feb (2pm-8pm) Lincoln Village Hall, Hingham, NR9 4HW
- 14 Feb (2pm-8pm) Hethersett Village Hall, NR9 3JJ
- 16 Feb (2pm-8pm) Easton Village Hall, NR9 5AD
- 17 Feb (10am-4pm) Norwich Millennium Library, NR2 1TF
- 19 Feb (11:30-5:30) Diamond Centre, Sprowston, NR7 8UA
- 22 Feb (10:30-4:30) South Norfolk House, Long Stratton, NR15 2XE
- 23 Feb (1pm-7pm) Spixworth Village Hall, NR10 3NQ
- 26 Feb (2pm-8pm) Poringland Community Centre, NR14 7JT
- 28 Feb (2pm-8pm) Hellesdon Community Centre, NR6 5SR
- 2 Mar (2pm-8pm) Dussindale Centre, Thorpe St Andrew, NR7 0SR
- 5 Mar (11am-5pm) Reepham Town Hall, NR10 4JW
- 6 Mar (2pm-8pm) Loddon and Chedgrave Jubilee Hall, NR14 6NB
- 7 Mar (10am-4pm) The Forum, Norwich, NR2 1TF
- 9 Mar (2pm-8pm) Wroxham Library, NR12 8RX
- 12 Mar (2pm-8pm) Taverham Village Hall, NR8 6JR
- 14 Mar (2pm-8pm) the Hub, Wymondham, NR18 0QJ
Questions about the Quantity & Distribution of Growth
Greater Norwich is an attractive place to live and work and more people move into the area than leave, mainly from elsewhere in the UK. Additionally, people are living longer, there is a tendency for households to get smaller and young people are finding it increasingly difficult to establish their own home; so even with no population growth there is a need for more housing.
If we don't plan to meet the housing needs arising from these factors, supply will not meet demand and upward pressure on house prices and rents will make it even more difficult for young people to get a home.
Housing is linked to the economy in many ways. If there are not enough homes, businesses will suffer from a shortage of customers and employees. Therefore, a housing shortage could stop companies expanding and prevent new businesses from setting up here.
By not planning for growth there is also a greater risk that housing developments will be built in unplanned and less appropriate locations. If we don’t have an up to date plan in place, national policy gives developers an advantage on sites we may not choose.
Leading experts were commissioned to undertake a study known as a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). This analyses population growth trends, household formation rates, affordability issues, evidence from developers and the predictions for economic growth to decide our “objectively assessed need” (OAN) for housing.
Since completing the SHMA, the government has proposed a standard method for calculating an area’s OAN. Although this method could change, it is sensible to base this local plan consultation on the method indicated by the government. This method suggests an OAN of around 39,000 homes in the period 2017 to 2036.
We also have to ensure the plan is flexible enough to support a growing economy and to provide for our OAN even if some sites are not built by 2036. Therefore, an additional 10% contingency or delivery buffer is added and the plan will ensure that sufficient sites are identified for around 42,900 homes.
As of April 2017 we already had a commitment of identified sites for nearly 35,700 homes, so the GNLP needs to provide land for 7,200 additional homes.
The GNLP will meet the housing needs of all our residents, but we can’t stop people from moving into the area from elsewhere. In fact, we wouldn’t want to stop migration. More people means we can safeguard existing services and provide new ones, and makes the area more attractive to businesses. Also, if we don’t provide enough housing in the market for people moving to Greater Norwich demand for new homes will exceed supply. This will put up prices and make it increasingly difficult for local people to enter the housing market. The government requires us to consider migration in assessing housing need.
Although the UK will be leaving the EU and the exact changes to migration and the economy are uncertain, most of our migration comes from elsewhere in the UK and has been a feature of our area for many years. It is likely that this trend will continue.
No decisions have been made about where the additional housing and employment should go. When the locations for future growth are considered, recent development and outstanding allocations and permissions will be taken into account, alongside other evidence.
One of the options we are considering is the potential new town, village or villages. A new town or village would require a lot of investment in new roads, schools, shops, and doctors. A new town would take many years to get started, so could only accommodate some of the growth needed in this plan period to 2036. A new town or village would have to be very large to make a noticeable difference. Rather than an alternative to growth in existing places, it is sensible to consider a new town or village as one part of our growth options.
We will continue the approach established with the JCS of protecting the most valued parts of our area and enhancing green infrastructure for nature and human use. The JCS resulted in a green infrastructure strategy which has produced various improvements to Marriotts Way, Whitlingham Broad, Catton Park and the Yare Valley, for example. There are more green improvements planned for the future, for example in Beeston/Sprowston/Rackheath/Thorpe around the ‘growth triangle’.
The GNLP will maximise the amount of development on ‘brownfield’ sites. Where we identify greenfield sites for development, we will base our decisions on evidence which will enable us to provide new green spaces, protect valuable landscapes, improve nature sites, and protect our natural resources, including minerals and water.
Green Belts cannot be set up as a way to restrict growth, but instead can form part of a way of accommodating it. They are set up for the long term so a Green Belt would direct patterns of growth in Greater Norwich well beyond 2036. Critically, under Government policy, new Green Belts can only be set up in exceptional circumstances. Currently, we believe there is no evidence that these exceptional circumstances apply to Greater Norwich. The consultation asks for people’s views on this.
The Greater Norwich economy has strong growth potential. In the six years since 2011 (when employment hit a post-crash low) the economy has grown by 18,000 jobs. Over the longer period since 2001 it has grown by 30,000 jobs. Over the next few years the potential for growth will be enhanced by the opening of the Northern Distributor Road (NDR), A47 improvements and improvements to train services.
The Greater Norwich authorities work with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to help shape the economic growth and development of the area, and Greater Norwich has become one of the key ‘engines of growth’ in the region.
Our economic advisers believe that the economy can continue to grow strongly, particularly in ‘high value’ sectors. This is reinforced by the LEP’s economic strategy and other plans to attract growth in high tech and knowledge-based industries such as life sciences, biotechnology, agri-tech, food and drink, creative and digital industries, and high-value engineering. This is in addition to other locally important industries such as retail, tourism and financial services. The GNLP will support the creation of a range of employment opportunities, including high-quality, high-value jobs.
We have produced a range of options to cover various ways to distribute new housing and jobs, but there is inevitably some overlap between them. It is possible that we will choose one of these options, or maybe a combination of two or more. We are particularly keen to hear your comments on the options, to help us consider the benefits and drawbacks of each. The GNLP will ensure new homes and jobs are located nearby and are supported by the services, facilities and infrastructure needed.
New development in the plan will need to be supported by new and improved infrastructure, including schools, medical facilities, roads, public transport and other community facilities. Growth can help to support and maintain existing community facilities. The Greater Norwich authorities are working with infrastructure providers to identify the likely infrastructure requirements to support the GNLP.
Currently, the housing and jobs growth in the JCS is supported by the Greater Norwich Infrastructure Plan, which covers education, transport, community and green infrastructure. This has identified around £570m of necessary infrastructure improvements, of which £400 million is already secured through developer contributions and other funding. Working in partnership helped make the case for A11 dualling and NDR funding and is likely to have influenced Highways England taking full responsibility for funding the planned improvements to Thickthorn junction, rather than being partly funded through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
The City Deal gives the partnership the ability to borrow money at a reduced rate from Government. In addition to this we have negotiated a further £20 million borrowing to provide short term loans to developers to provide infrastructure and help the creation of additional homes and jobs.
Larger development sites will often provide infrastructure on site, and all sites will contribute CIL. The Greater Norwich authorities are the only local authorities in the country to pool CIL money to deliver infrastructure improvements across the area in a co-ordinated way, which gives a better outcome for our residents. Current estimates of CIL income suggest a collective Infrastructure Investment Fund of approximately £78 million from 2013 to 2026 for the delivery of this programme.
You can be sure infrastructure will be considered at every stage, and the local plan inspector will require us to show there is a reasonable chance that necessary infrastructure will be provided.
GNDP partners are also carrying out a Transport for Norwich survey to help plan the future of transport in the area. Visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/tfnreview to take part and find out more.
In order to reduce environmental impact including contributions to climate change and air pollution, it is important that we choose locations for growth that reduce the need to travel, promote walking and cycling and make best use of existing transport networks and planned improvements. As growth options are developed there will be further work to identify what additional transport improvements will be required to support the chosen growth option and sites.
As well as the work being done for the local plan, the County Council is looking at wider issues on our transport networks and is undertaking a review of the transport strategy for the Norwich area and network improvement strategies for market towns. These strategies will be developed alongside the emerging growth plans and will look at the opportunities for wider improvements to the transport system.
GP recruitment and retention is an issue which affects most of the UK. Additionally, other health organisations such as hospitals and dentists often have to deal with similar concerns. This is an issue which the health service has to address, but it doesn’t remove the necessity to deliver new homes to meet housing needs.
The NHS has programmes both nationally and locally to address the current GP shortage, for example the GP Forward View by NHS England. This plan allocates an additional £2.4 billion towards general practice by 2020, including an extra 5,000 new GPs over the next five years as well as thousands more general practice nurses and other staff. Locally, the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are looking to expand the healthcare workforce.
We will consider the location of GP surgeries when deciding on the distribution of growth, but as GP capacity affects almost all areas it is not something we can consider when making decisions about how much development each area can take. The GNLP will consider whether there are sufficient health care facilities (i.e. buildings) within an area, and the Greater Norwich authorities will continue to work with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, NHS England and the CCGs to ensure there are plans in place to deliver new or expanded facilities.
What is a neighbourhood plan, and what is the relationship between the local plan and neighbourhood plans?
Neighbourhood planning was introduced through the Localism Act 2011 to help communities shape development in their areas. Neighbourhood plans become part of the local plan. A neighbourhood plan cannot block development that is already part of the local plan, but they can shape where that development will go and what it will look like. Neighbourhood plans should conform with ‘strategic’ policies set out in the local plan. The GNLP will identify which policies are considered to be strategic.
A number of neighbourhood plans have been adopted (“made”) in the area. Others are in the course of preparation or are proposed. The following list sets out the current position:
Neighbourhood Plans have been adopted in the following areas:
- Great and Little Plumstead
- Old Catton
Application has been made for a neighbourhood plan covering the northern part of Norwich City Centre and the area around the Cathedral and Tombland.
- Cringleford Neighbourhood Plan is adopted and in effect since 2014
- Mulbarton Neighbourhood Plan is adopted and in effect since 2016
- Easton Neighbourhood Plan is adopted and in effect since 2017
- Diss and district have begun the process of producing a neighbourhood plan
- Poringland have applied for a neighbourhood plan
- Dickleburgh and Rushall have applied for a neighbourhood plan
What happens next?
The Regulation 18 consultation will last just under 10 weeks, from 8 January to 15 March 2018.
The GNLP can only succeed if the views of the public, developers, services and infrastructure providers are understood.
There are questions throughout the Growth Options consultation document about the main content of the plan, including the Vision and Objectives, Strategy and Topic Policies, which we want your views on. There is also a general ‘other issues’ question (question 66) if you would like to comment on something which doesn’t have a question linked to it.
To make your comments on the Growth Options consultation document, please go online here to answer the question or questions you are interested in. Some issues likely to be of general interest are:
- Vision and Objectives - see question 1
- Housing and jobs numbers – see questions 3 to 6
- Infrastructure – see question 7
- Growth Options – see questions 9 to 11
- New Settlements – see question 12
- Green Belt – see question 13
- The Settlement Hierarchy – see questions 23 to 25
- Norwich centred policy area – see question 26
- The Sites - see below
- Topic Policies covering a wide variety issues such as The Economy, Transport, Design, Housing, Climate Change, Environment Issues and Communities – see section 6
You can also comment on the sites which have been submitted to the plan online. To find out more, go to the Have your say page and follow the instructions for the Site Proposals consultation document. This will provide you with a map of each site. To help you make your comments:
- The Site Proposals consultation document has a summary of the sites for each parish.
- And the HELAA in our evidence base has more detailed summaries for each submitted site.
You can also follow the links from here to comment on the Interim Sustainability Appraisal and supporting documents in the evidence base.
Once comments have been checked and verified they will be available online (with respondents’ names) for others to see 2
If you have any further questions about the ways to comment or if you need the consultation document in large print, audio, Braille, alternative format or a different language you can email us at email@example.com or phone us on 01603 306603.
If you wish to submit additional sites (they must be larger than 0.25 hectares and if for housing, for 5 homes or more) for us to consider, you can do this from the Have your say page and follow the instructions for the Site Proposals consultation document. 3
Our consultation website will give you a reference so you have a record of submitting your comment, and our GNLP mailbox will send an automated reply so you will know we have received your email. We will not be able to give an individual reply to your comments, as we expect to receive a lot of them. However, we will consider all comments made, and will produce a ‘Statement of Consultation’ document which summarises individual comments and outlines our response to each. This document will take some months to produce, and when it is ready it will be available on the GNLP website.
A “Regulation 19” stage is scheduled to happen in summer of 2019. We will publish a draft plan, and you will have the opportunity to provide comment for consideration by a planning inspector.
We held workshops for parish councils at the start of the local plan process, they are statutory consultees during this Regulation 18 consultation, and we will continue to work with parish councils as we produce the GNLP.
We have a database of people who have expressed an interest in the GNLP’s progress. If you make a comment on the Regulation 18 document, we will add your contact details to the database, so you will be informed as we reach the next consultation stage. If you have no comment to make at this stage but wish to be kept informed, please ask to be added.
The Greater Norwich authorities plan to adopt the GNLP in 2020. This will replace any district-level plans (such as site allocation documents or area action plans) and will also replace the JCS. In general, the GNLP will not cover development management (DM) policies, though some changes affecting them may be made.