Greens condemn regional growth study

29 January 2009

Green Party Councillors in Eastern Region have condemned the new EERA (East of England Regional Assembly) Study into growth in the region up to 2031 and beyond.

With the consequences of the East of England Plan still being considered, the new Study suggests an even faster rate of development. The East of England Plan runs from 2001 - 2021 and proposes over half a million houses being built in the six counties of the region in that period (Essex, Suffolk, Cambs., Norfolk, Beds., and Herts).

The growth Study to 2031 and beyond lists a number of towns for substantial growth. Norwich, Cambridge and Chelmsford could become "regional cities" with 300,000 to 400,000 populations. Regional growth centres would include Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St. Edmunds.

But the Study also suggests new towns with 20,000 houses or more at Huntingdon/Alconbur y, A5120/Midland Mainline Corridor, East Beds Strategic Corridor, Marston Vale Eco Town, South of the A120/East of Stansted Airport and the Braintree Area.

The Study claims that this massive level of housing growth would include "eco-credentials" for the proposed new towns, yet there is no evidence that any current or proposed new towns can meet adequate sustainability criteria, such as zero carbon housing.

Cllr. Rupert Read, Norwich City Councillor and Prospective Green Party MEP for Eastern Region, said

"The new growth plans for Norfolk, and Norwich particularly, are completely unsustainable. The Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) Joint Core Strategy for Norwich by 2021 already threatens to change the City's regional character irreparably, and force unwanted housing and out-of-town shopping on much of its Green-belt perimeter. Due to poor planning for several decades, Norfolk has poor public transport, whilst strategic employment is being developed on the opposite side of Norwich from new housing. This is hardly joined-up thinking.

The idea of a 400,000 population Norwich comes from remote planners who must be on another planet. EERA must press for the Government to shelve this huge level of growth in the Eastern Region. Instead, we would urge that there should be greater re-development on brownfield sites in the North of England where houses are being pulled down, and sustainable infrastructure must come to Norfolk rather than unending growth concreting over our countryside.

Modest green development would give the region low carbon, affordable housing at every new development, not so called 'eco-towns' that are actually no such thing.

But even before this, local jobs, a shift away from private car dependency, and a sustainable transport system for most people to travel for work and leisure must be put in place."

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