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Letter to Planning Inspectorate re 180 houses on Thetford Road Watton

by Alison Skipper - Parish Clerk - 16:29 on 07 March 2016

4th March 2016


Planning Inspectorate

Hearing - 8th March 2016

Queens Hall



Land at Thetford Road Watton.

Planning Application Appeal APP/F2605/W/15/3137812

Caston Parish Council and residents of the village of Caston are totally opposed to this development.


Caston is a rural village situated 3 miles south east of Watton, east of the A1075. The village is served by two narrow “C” roads joining the A1075. These pass through the village to join the B1077 which continues eastward to meet the A11 at Attleborough.


Caston Parish Council is extremely concerned that a development of this size to the south of Watton will greatly increase the traffic flow through Caston to a point that is unsustainable. This village is already suffering from excessive traffic and the village Speed Watch Team has recorded many speeding vehicles travelling in excess of 40mph through this 30mph area as well as large trucks which already use it as a shortcut to Watton.. It is so bad that the P.C. is looking at installing traffic calming measures in the hope that the dangerous speeds and the volume of traffic will be reduced. The Parish Council’s aim is to REDUCE traffic flow, thus protecting the village school children at the school, pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists who use the narrow village roadways. It is inevitable, that traffic volumes generated by the proposed development, will increase the flow through Caston, as vehicles wishing to access the A11 at Attleborough will have to pass through the village.


This one development of 180 properties is the same number of properties as the whole of Caston and Northacre put together, thus equating to a whole new village! There are already over 600 properties which are “completions & commitments to March 2015” to be or with permission, to be built in the Watton area. These will already put an unwarranted strain on the current infrastructure. The provision of health, 6th form schooling and employment areas are currently minimal or non existent in the immediate surrounding area.


As Caston residents are regular users of the A1075 road to enter the town of Watton. Caston parishioners are extremely concerned at the prospect of a large increase of traffic movements along this road. The road between the turn to Caston and Barn Ruche has witnessed many accidents and several deaths already. It is a well documented dangerous road. The vicinity of Barn Ruche and the junction of the road to Merton where the new proposed junctions are to be located will contribute to this.


The town of Watton is the nearest service centre for Caston and other surrounding villages. Doctor and dental services for many village residents should be provided here. In the last year many Caston residents were turned away from Watton Surgery due to lack of space meaning they have to travel to Hingham, East Harling or Attleborough to use these services. With no transport provision to these places the residents cannot access them easily without their own or volunteer transport. 180 new properties will no doubt have at least an average of 2 residents per property, so a large number of them will need to have their own vehicles to also access these very limited provisions. The already overstretched health provisions could be totally outstripped by such a population increase.


Currently there is no 6th Form school provision at Watton so children have to be transported to this elsewhere in Norfolk and there is no doubt that the 180 houses will include many 16 -19 year olds needing schooling. University students may also be affected by this as lecture times do not necessarily coincide with local bus services. Without this the students will need to find their own transport maybe by taking a quick cut to Norwich via the A11, through our village thus increasing the traffic levels throughout the day and evening.


The proposed Local Plan for Breckland, currently under consultation, states that new employment will be “located to take advantage of the A11 and A47 corridor”. Watton currently has little or no employment opportunities for jobs or careers, other than factory work. There is no large business unit site, so traffic will be the issue again, as residents of the 180 properties may need to travel to A11 to reach their chosen employment. There is no mention of new employment provision for Watton in the new Local Plan.


Our Council and residents are also concerned by the close proximity of Wayland Wood, one of the most ancient woodland areas in the country.  The impact of such a large residential settlement so close will inevitably have a detrimental impact on the habitat and peace and tranquillity of this ancient woodland. The increased traffic will no doubt have an effect on the air quality around the woodland which may have an impact on the trees and plants.

The PC believes that the local character will be transformed beyond recognition when it is supposed, according to the Local Plan, to “enhance the existing character of the area” and “sustainability will be encouraged”. However, the whole open field aspect, hedgerows, and green space environment will be removed and replaced with roads and houses.


Caston Parish Council is firmly convinced that the development as proposed is too large, unsustainable, detrimental on the environment, and will cause excessive problems to the community infrastructure.  We strongly recommend that this proposal is rejected.

Alison Skipper


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