(Article by Fiona Turner, first published in Just North Walsham)
The need for more housing across the UK presents us all with a lot to think about.
No reasonable person would deny that a shortage of housing is of national concern, but the way new housing fits with our environment is a matter of real importance. Here in North Walsham we are witnessing some significant levels of newly-built houses. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be able to purchase a new home. Perhaps people new to North Walsham want to live in our great town and contribute to it.
For many of us, a certain amount of housing development will bring good things. But whoever lives in our new homes, it is up to all of us to bear in mind that any future building development for North Walsham must involve our wishes too.
Perhaps we cannot erase the actual numbers of houses that any central government now or in the future has decided on. But we can influence the location of future development, and we can influence the design of any new houses.
Recently, I went to a very enlightening presentation on the idea of a ‘Neighbourhood Plan’. I heard talks given by independent commentators with significant knowledge of town development. It was amazing to hear how careful town planning can create a vastly better way of life for people, and truly troubling to hear how slapdash planning can create an environment of tension and misery. Things like wide spaces, well thought-out schemes for parking and the placing of bins really do matter.
How many times do you, like me, walk down the street and not really think about how the environment is affecting your mood? The truth is, we may not realise it on a conscious level, but our environment affects us very much, and our environment includes the way our towns are built.
You have a right to have a say about your town.
A Neighbourhood Plan represents the views of the local people. When complete, it has the same legal status as any other plans others may have for us in terms of future development. So we have to ask ourselves – do we want some control over the way North Walsham is developed?
Or should we leave all the decisions in the hands of others?