Norfolk urbanisation protesters win High Court battle

Campaigners fighting town and city expansion in Norfolk have won a High Court battle with council planners.

The group Snub (Stop Norwich Urbanisation), took action against Broadland District, South Norfolk District and Norwich City councils.

The judge ruled that plans for development to the north east of Norwich had not been properly assessed.

But the proposed Norwich northern distributor road had been "subject to environmental assessment", he said.

Stephen Heard, chairman of Snub, successfully argued that the three Norfolk authorities had breached a "directive" requiring councils to assess the effects development plans might have on the environment.

'Reasonable alternatives'

Mr Heard, 57, of Salhouse near Norwich, also argued "reasonable alternatives" to urban growth had not been fully examined.

"We are all delighted," he said after the decision. "It gives us confidence that the course we took was the right one."

In a written ruling, handed down at the High Court earlier, Mr Justice Ouseley said alternatives to the preferred option had not been given "equal appraisal" in the scheme's environmental assessment.

Andrew Proctor, chairman of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) representing the four councils, said the ruling did not challenge the scale of growth needed in the area.

"Careful, sustained, well-paced planning means we can achieve our aspirations to deliver jobs, homes and prosperity while protecting all that we cherish about Norfolk and its unique character," he said.

The decision followed a two-day hearing in December.

'Properly assessed'

The group had also argued the councils acted unlawfully by not assessing the environmental impact of the proposed Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR).

But Mr Justice Ouseley found these plans had been properly assessed.

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for planning and transportation, welcomed the NDR decision.

"The judge has not challenged our view that the NDR is needed to tackle existing transport problems," he said.

"Whilst, as a GNDP partner, the county council is keen to help find a way forward for the Joint Core Strategy, the judgement will have no direct effect on the proposals for the NDR, or the work that is under way to develop a planning application."

A further hearing on the issue will now take place at the High Court on Wednesday.

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