Thursday, May 18, 2006


Nothing is better designed to get people angry and upset than the local government planning regime. On the surface this seems to be an integral part of our society - allowing local people to plan carefully for the development of their neighbourhoods and the concurrent services we all depend on.

Here in Wroxham we are blessed with some of the craziest planners in Christendom. I conclude this from the kinds of decisions they have reached over the years.

Cast your mind back to the infamous Wroxham by-pass. Some bright spark had it in his mind that it would be a good idea to by-pass the centre of Wroxham and greatly improve the road structure in this part of Norfolk. Good idea.

Here is the logical solution: where the main road crosses the railway on the Norwich side of Wroxham; instead of taking a sharp right turn into the main village, go left and across the River Bure, through uninhabited areas, and rejoin the main carriageway on the other side of the village. Unfortunately, there is nothing logical about planning.

Problem - this route would go through a site of special scientific interest. This route is out.

So, bright sparks at the planning authority decided to: go right at the railway bridge, build a two mile viaduct over Wroxham Broad (costing God knows how many millions) and eventually rejoin the road on the other side of the village. Cost? Astronomical. Feasibility? None. Nevertheless, they press on - for a while at least.

Just as an addendum, this route would have passed within 200 yards of some of the most expensive properties in Wroxham - The Avenues. Not surprisingly, the residents of these properties were not overly enthused. As soon as the plan was announced the value of these expensive properties plummeted. One poor chap lost hundred of thousands. Eventually, after many investigations, he got some back when the government agreed that the planners had got it completely wrong! The scheme was dropped. Wasted money? Lots. Accountability? None.

Not content with that 25 year fiasco the planners start all over, this time to move the football club. The ground of Wroxham F.C. is called Trafford Park. The land is leased from the local "squire", Mr Trafford. Before the lease runs out they would rather like to move to somewhere more suitable and improve their facilities. Mr Trafford would rather like to build some houses on the football ground, so he would gladly sell the club new space elsewhere. Sounds a good plan. Everybody wins. Enter the planners.

No chance. It's not in the local development plan. Petitions later, still no chance. It's likely that someone in planning doesn't like Mr Trafford, or houses, or football clubs or Uncle Tom Cobley and all. These are the same folks who allow Network Rail to run stations without safe places to cross to the opposite platforms and fuel depots to be sited in the middle of an industrial estate - close to houses. Remember the The Buncefield Oil Depot in Hemel Hempstead? Great planning guys. You have managed to engineer the largest explosion in Western Europe since the end of World War II - quite close to houses and business premises. My hat is off to the planners. Keep up the good work.

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