North Walsham Town Council – A Strategy for North Walsham

North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) Local Plan provides the planning policy context for development across the whole of North Norfolk for the period 2016 – 2036. The main elements which will form this Plan are:

  • Strategic Policies – Providing the overarching approach to development in North Norfolk, such as where and how much development should take place; and also setting the long-term spatial vision, objectives and key policies.
  • Development Management Policies – Including affordable housing, tourism, coastal erosion, and protecting the natural and built environment.
  • Site Allocations – Setting out detailed policies for the development of individual sites to help meet the aims of strategic policies.
  • Policies Map – Showing geographically where policies apply.

Further information on the NNDC emerging Local Plan can be found here:

https://www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/tasks/planning-policy/view-the-emerging-local-plan

North Walsham Town Council launched a Town Strategy survey in July 2017. A questionnaire was sent to all registered residential and business addresses and made available at various locations within the town. A small working group was established to consider the responses and an interim report on the survey was published on 5th September 2017. This covered return rates and highlighted the most favoured themes. The final outcome will be an important element of the Town’s response to the consultation on the Local Plan, which is expected during the first quarter of 2018, alongside material from a series of workshops and a public meeting, yet to be arranged.

Interim Report

The top priorities which emerged in the interim report were:

  • Minimise the impact of development on our environment o Protection of our green spaces o A revitalised and thriving town centre
  • Open for business site allocation in the Local Plan to indicate land for business use such as a retail park and office park
  • Address pressures on local schools due to planned housing growth.
  • In addition, there were a number of comments regarding reducing high class numbers and the lack of available qualified school teachers.
  • Address the additional requirements of the diverse age range of residents.
  • Improving community and leisure facilities for younger people. In particular, there were a number of comments regarding the lack of leisure / recreation facilities for children / youngsters in the age range 11 – 17 years. We also received comments regarding the length of time it was taking to get a doctor’s appointment and it is to be noted that the Birchwood Medical Practice was nearly forced to close their books to new patients due to pressure on GP’s.
  • Traffic management that is appropriate to the narrow road infrastructure of an historic market town & reduces the flow of HGVs through the town.
  • Free parking availability.

Looking more closely at the responses in the major themes, we can see that local people and businesses demonstrate an eagerness to regenerate the town centre and to attract businesses, but also wish to retain the uniqueness of the town and improve facilities.

Housing & Environment

The points raised in the Town Strategy were as follows:

Housing

Raise issues compiled in this report with relevant doctor’s surgeries and schools.

Insist that developers contribute to the Towns Infrastructure.

Prevent building on Greenfield Land.

Insist that developers invest in Green Energy, new builds to include renewable energy, electric car charging points and rain water capture for waste flushing.

  • Look at developing Brownfield sites.
  • Need for more affordable housing and rental properties.
  • Low cost housing will encourage young families to stay in the area.
  • We have a need for more Social Housing. Housing Association housing should be prioritised for local people.
  • Ensure affordable housing stays affordable and is not bought by landlords who will increase rents.
  • Protect our Swift population.
  • Less housing development and no high rises, housing must ‘fit’ with the look of the town.
  • Council housing should not be sold off.
  • Property owners should be accountable for buildings allowed to fall into disrepair. Maintain vacant properties.
  • Reduce the impact of additional traffic and noise.  
  •  Ensure public parks are maintained and not spoilt by anti-social behaviour.
  • Victory Housing’s involvement for affordable social housing.
  • Invest in Sheltered Housing.
  •  Look at grants and trusts available to assist in Brownfield redevelopment.
  • Provide adequate parking for houses.

Environment 

  • Increase care of street cleaning, verges and weed management.
  • Take responsibility for communal spaces.
  • More dog and litter bins.
  • Do not destroy our Woodlands.
  • Protect wildlife areas
  • Restore and rejuvenate old buildings and shop fascias.
  • Lobby NNDC to improve facilities, drain clearing, waste disposal, footpath clearing, cycle routes etc.
  • Introduce power points for Hybrid cards – encourage clean air in the town.

Economy

The points raised in the Town Strategy were as follows:

  • Clear split on pedestrianisation.

Points include:

Yes to pedestrianisation

  • If we pedestrianise we must improve street furniture and encourage more coffee shops.
  • This will provide more of a Village culture, tables and chairs outside coffee shops etc
  •  Huge step forward and a game changer for this town.
  • Pedestrianisation will work if the shops are there.
  • Pedestrianisation will work if free car parking is available.
  • Trial the scheme to see if it works.
  • Offer partial pedestrianisation from 10am – 4.30pm.
  • Pedestrianisation of the town centre will aid the elderly.
  • Allow taxis and buses to use the pedestrianised town centre.
  • Will promote better community.

                        No to pedestrianisation 

  • Would not improve traffic congestion, hard enough to get across town now.
  •  How will shop keepers gain access to their shops, where do the buses go?
  • Waste of money.
  • Pedestrianisation would deter consumer footfall.
  • Stop people from ‘popping into’ the shops.
  • Takes the soul out of the town.  
  • The elderly like to park outside the shops. What about the disabled?
  • Update on Weatherspoon’s.
  • Needs more schemes to help start-ups, retail, cafés and restaurants.
  • Consider the impact of business rates on the town centre and address accordingly.
  • NNDC to encourage new business with grants and subsidies.
  • Rent/rate freeze for now industry/business in the town centre.
  • No pound shops, attract more middle of the road and upmarket shops. I.e. Jarrolds in bank building.
  • Clothing stores for young and old.
  • Artisan shops, bars, café’s, restaurants, book shop, to fill the town centre. Interesting mix of shops.
  • Lack of DIY shop, dry cleaners, better pubs.
  • No more charity shops.
  • Improve the precinct and make better use of the space.
  • Improve the market, new and different stalls.
  • Improve the Sunday market, encourage local farm produce.
  • Free parking on market day.
  • Clear split on Retail Park.

Yes to Retail Park.

  • Build on unused land i.e. beside Waitrose.
  • Need to encourage shoppers to stay in town.
  • Provide more choice for people moving into new housing estates as well as long term residents.
  • Bigger Shops provide jobs.

No to Retail Park o Will kill town centre.

  • Will take away customers from the shops we already have. o Encourage interest in new petrol station.
  • Ensure shop keepers take a pride in the appearance of their premises.
  • Better promote the attractions that we have ie Motorcycle Museum, Cat Pottery.
  • Make the town centre more attractive, more seating (creative seating).
  • Encourage pop up shops.
  • Provide shops with awnings, for shelter and shade especially in the precinct.
  • More buskers in the town centre.
  • Convert empty shops to educational hubs, wellbeing centres.
  • Improve the Information Centre, make it more visible.
  • Better signage around the town.
  • Embrace the history and the heritage of the town

 

Education

NNDC Core Strategy affirms The Education Authority, (which is County Council responsibility), has identified a possible need for improved school provision to support the level of new development proposed for North Walsham.

The points raised by the town strategy were as follows:

  • Many were not sure of the impact of merging Paston College with City College and do not want to see its excellent reputation damaged because of it. There are also concerns over job losses due to the merger.
  • Those in favour of the merger saw the potential to expand vocational courses and build on the Colleges reputation.
  • Encourage better links with UEA and Paston College.
  • Support local pre-schools, nurseries, before and after school clubs.
  • Encourage apprenticeships for those who do not wish to go to University.
  • Invest in adult education, use the schools facilities.  Improve youth activities.
  • After schools education and pastimes to engage young.
  • Get schools involved in community projects.
  • See how the council can help support the schools to raise educational standards.
  • Recognise support that is needed for parents and schools.
  • Encourage school children to respect property.
  •  Look at support for youth. i.e. Youth Clubs.
  • Ensure there are enough schools for the expanding town.

 

Community

  • More litter bins and dog waste bins across the town.
  • Work to improve the overall look of the town. Tidy rubbish. Green spaces need attention. Clean it up! o Encourage volunteers to work throughout the town.
  • Refurbish the clock tower.
  • Improve the overall look of the graveyard. Introduce ‘Friends of the Cemetery’ to care for the aesthetic (more people now looking for sites of ancestors, due to ‘Who do you think you are?’).
  • Investigate ways to protect the park from vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Warder? Locking gates?
  • Make tennis courts more accessible.
  • More visible advertising of clubs and societies throughout the town.
  • Better communication across the board.  
  • Better utilisation of the Atrium.
  • Greater provision for 13-17 year olds. Encourage a young person’s café, for them, run by them – possible apprenticeships and involvement from schools.
  • We need a youth officer and youth centre to encourage youth involvement.
  • Work closer with the police and promote a visible police presence.
  • Improve lavatory facilities.
  • A community hub – a business work space to include hot desks.
  • Improve presentation and use of the Community Centre.
  • Add some life to market day, more buskers, street theatre, music.
  • Cinema, leisure facilities, historical attractions.
  • Protect face to face banking.
  • Provide guidelines on look and feel of shops to landlords and shopkeepers.
  • Look at making the pavements safer for wheelchair users and the elderly.
  • Need for a ‘Walk In’ clinic.
  • Provide a hard-core circuit around the park to promote walking/health.
  • North Walsham hospital is an underused resource.
  • Bring back the carnival.
  • Bring back the Town Guide.
  • More events with better advertising and promotion.
  • Greater support needs to be given to community groups such as Funday committee, North Walsham Play and North Walsham Gymnastics.
  • Encourage more community groups.
  • Summer concerts.
  • Free Wi-Fi in the town centre.
  • Improve the park; more flowers, better benches, a café.
  • Encourage businesses to sponsor planters.
  • Shake off the drab look of the town.

 

Transport & Infrastructure

There were a number of areas that stood out clearly within this section as areas of concern to residents.

  • Do we have enough post and bin men to cope with the Increase in numbers of households?
  • Need for bike parking.
  • We do not need cycle paths.
  • Police cycling on the pavements and cycling the wrong way down one way streets.
  • Ensure footpaths and cycle lanes are kept clear. o More trains that run later into the evening.
  • Later trains from Norwich.
  • Better Sunday transport.
  • Mobility scooters are causing issues on narrow pavements.
  • More drop kerbs for prams and wheelchairs.
  • Ban HGV’s from town centre during working hours.
  • Deliveries to Supermarkets to be made in evening.
  • Too much traffic in town.
  • Improve the taxi rank, move into centre of town.
  • Provide electric charging points.

 

          Roads and Pavements

  • More responsibility needs to be taken over the condition of roads and pavements, signage and fencing.
  • Maintenance issues need to be addressed.
  • Drainage problems need to be addressed to prevent flooding ie near railway station.
  • Site lines on a variety of roads needs to be addressed.
  • Aylsham road issue
  • Sort out the roundabout issues on Grammar School road.
  • More crossings provided in areas of heavy foot traffic/school children.
  • Work on traffic flow around the town to prevent congestion.
  • Introduce more sleeping policemen to tackle speeding.
  • Immediate adoption of 20mph speed limit around North Walsham.
  • Enforce speeding restrictions

 

Parking o     More free parking.

  • Better policing of parking.
  • Address issues with parking during the ‘school run’ and access to private drives.
  • 1 hour free parking made freely available.
  • New car park needed at train station.
  • Free parking at times when the market is on.
  • More double yellow lines in areas of concern ie. where 24 hour access is required Bypass
  • Improve traffic lights at Bypass to prevent congestion.
  • Link from Norwich Road to industrial estate.
  • Link from Cromer Road to industrial estate
  • Link from Yarmouth Road to the Norwich Road
  •  Bypass to prevent HGV’s coming into town

 

Buses & Bus Terminal

  • Buses and cabs only in the town square.
  • Introduce a bus terminal, investigate possible sights including New Road & telephone exchange.
  • Better visibility of bus timetables.
  • More shelters at stops
  • More, smaller buses running more regularly
  • Later buses running more regularly.
  • Better co-ordination of buses so that they meet incoming / outgoing buses.

 

Other

Points raised in the Town Strategy that were not raised by the Town Council, but that residents felt needed addressing were:

  • Policing – a more visible police presence.
  • CSO in the park to prevent vandalism.
  • Crack down on vandalism.
  • Consider a retirement village.
  • Need to take action now to revitalise the town.
  • Cohesive town website that brings everything together.
  • Email newsletter.
  • Sort out mobile phone signals.
  • Address the ‘slope’ beside the Precinct.
  • Move the town notice board.
  • Provision for a food waste service.
  • A good neighbourhood scheme.
  • Let’s wake North Walsham up.
  • Sterner measures need to be taken for dumping and fly tipping.

 

Next Steps

The ‘Town Council Strategy Working Group’ will now initiate a series of themed workshops to draw out some of the detail. These will provide the basis for a coherent, detailed and well informed response to the NNDC’s consultation on the emerging Local Plan, which is due during the first quarter of 2018. The eventual Local Plan document will, when published, dictate the overall direction of development in North Norfolk for some twenty years. It is important for North Walsham to be involved at the centre of these debates, as a major contributor to the North Norfolk economy. It is also important for the voice to reflect North Walsham, and not simply the Town Council or vocal individuals within the town. Finally, it is important to note that the material, and the greater understanding of what North Walsham needs, may subsequently form the basis for producing a Neighborhood Plan – if the process adopted by the town council enables us to reflect a strong story in the Local Plan, a neighborhood plan that compliments this will be a much easier talk to fulfil.

Workshops – Help Make It Happen

The Town Council will be running workshops to consider these key themes.

 

  • Town Centre shops
  • Youth o Heritage
  • Bypass / road infrastructure
  • Market place pedestrianisation / free parking / bus interchange o Public transport

Details will be published shortly.

In the meantime we are happy to receive your further comments and input.

 

Reference:

NNDC Local Development Framework – Core Strategy 2008

NNDC Local Development Framework – Site Allocations 2011

 

North Walsham Town Council – Strategy Working:

 

Councillor Barry Hester – councillor_barry_hester@northwalsham-town.co.uk 07500 119197

Councillor Robert Murphy –  robert-j-murphy@hotmail.com 07551 457050

Councillor Elaine Addison – councillor_elaine_addison@northwalsham-town.co.uk 07741 403971

Nick Clancy (Town Clerk) – clerk@northwalsham-town.co.uk 01692 404411

Fiona Collett – reception@northwalsham-town.co.uk 01692 404411