Dear Planning Policy Team
A planning sub-committee elected by Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting has met to discuss whether a shared response to the current Issues and Options Consultation could be agreed. A response to those issues which particularly effect our two parishes was agreed and comprised the following.
With reference to Issue 40 (Strategy for Countryside) both Hoe and Worthing are currently classified as ‘countryside’ with no settlement boundary. There was no appetite to change this arrangement and the preferred option was therefore option 40 ‘continue with the current approach’.
With reference to the proposed strategic objectives (option 1) it was noted that item 4 stated ‘Working with local people to identify and address needs and priorities throughout the district, helping to advance local need and local distinctiveness through the mechanism of the localism agenda’. The feeling of our two parishes is that maintaining our distinctiveness is generally seen as important and thus remaining clearly separated from other nearby settlements is essential. In particular there is concern that small settlements could be subsumed into larger ones. In Worthing, for example there is currently only a minimal separation from North Elmham and this should be maintained to avoid contiguity and the loss of individual community identity. The answer to question 3 therefore is that objective 4 in particular is relevant; indeed we would ask that there is a specific policy to prevent the creep of development so that the characteristics of each existing community are maintained.
With regard to Issue 9 (protection of non-statutory sites) there are two issues which were responded to in answer to question 27. Firstly there appears to be no mention in the document of protecting flood plains against development. This was seen by us as an essential element which should be included. Secondly, although there is passing reference to affording ‘high protection to river valleys’ our experience is that although the LDF contains a similar assertion it can be interpreted as ambiguous. The problem in the past seems to have arisen because even where rivers have the very highest levels of protection (The Wensum, for example’ is an SSSI, SAC and has Europen protection) this only extends to the waterway and riparian borders. The valley sides do not enjoy the same level of protection and our view is that the local plan should be specific that the intention is to fully protect the valleys against development.
With regard to question 29 there is one area our parishes wish to have designated as ‘green space’. This is known as Hoe Common and is situated in Hoe between Hoe Road and Holt Road (B1110). A map of the area to fully identify it will be delivered to Breckland’s offices.
With reference to issue 5 and question 23. We support option 22 which relates to ‘promoting improvements to communication infrastructure, such as better broadband’. We would observe that better communication infrastructure should include (in addition to broadband) better mobile phone reception. Rural isolation is a reality for many residents in the district and the paucity of good community links impacts strongly on rural enterprise.
With regard to issue 22 which relates to the town centre strategy for Dereham we feel justified in commenting on this because all of our residents rely on the continued viability of the town centre for our day-to-day needs. We consider it perverse that arrangements are being made to extend the areas reserved for retail provision at a time when there is already so much spare retail capacity. In particular we consider the reserving of the whole area around the back of the TA Hall along with Georges Road when the latter is generally agreed by a vast majority of people and Norfolk County Council to be the best site for a bus interchange as a source of amazement. If the bus interchange was situated there that would enable busses to be removed from Market Place where the presence of a constant stream of busses is both dangerous and polluting; it also prevents any development of Market Place. With the busses removed from Market Place some consideration could be given to halting the decline which has seen that part of the town deteriorate apace over the last two decades.
I would be grateful if you would include this response as you publish the responses you receive to the ‘Issues and Options Consultation’. My full details are on your system but if you have any query I can be contacted on 01362 860326.
Trevor Wood (Chairman, Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting)