Community should have bigger say on development, says councillors
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2009
The first phase of a 30-year plan to build 5,000 homes is well underway in Thetford, but community members say more needs to be done to involve people in development.
The Kingsfleet development, also referred to as the Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE), will be taking place in five stages, with the first phase currently taking shape on the northern edge of the town.
With the town's population set to expand, community members have said more should be done to involve people in the development process.
Councillors Terry Jermy and Jane James say one of the main concerns within the town is dentistry and doctor services, and the impact development will have on local infrastructure.
Mr Jermy said: "More needs to be done to improve infrastructure, we've seen a decline in public services generally over the last few years and that's regardless of any increase in population."
Asked if the community is listened to in big developments, he said: "No, not at all. I believe in empowering communities and making sure their voices are heard, and that doesn't happen nearly enough."
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That sentiment was shared by Gez Chetal, owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel, who said authorities needed to listen more to local people.
He added: "Decisions can't be made just at council level. My staff said you never know what happens because these decisions are made at council level and then you find out afterwards."
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Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill, who sits on the planning committee, said there is frustration in communities up and down the districts who feel they "aren't listened to in terms of planning".
He added: "Planning should be more community led rather than developer led, communities should have a much bigger say in how their town or village grows.
"I think in a lot of cases housing development is something that is done to communities and not with communities and that's a big problem."
But councillor Jane James, who also runs a bookstore in Thetford, believes the community has been heard in regard to the Kingsfleet development, referring to the work that the Greater Thetford Development Partnership has been doing.
She added: "There are provisions within the Kingsfleet SUE plan for additional recreation areas from the plans, so those will come on board as the phases do, which will hopefully complement the increased housing and residents."
She urged people to raise their concerns with the town council and other representatives to ensure they are heard.