Agenda item

Horning Knackers Wood Updated Joint Position Statement


 Horning Knackers Wood Updated Joint Position Statement

Executive Summary

The report updates Members on the revised. Joint Position Statement with regard to the Horning Knackers Wood Water Recycling Centre catchment.

Options considered



The updated Joint Position statement has been undertaken collaboratively with the Broads Authority, Environment Agency, Anglian Water and NNDC


It is recommended that Members of the Planning Policy & Built Heritage Working Party note the contents of the updated Joint Position Statement and recommend to Cabinet that it authorises the Assistant Director of Planning in conjunction with the Planning Policy Team Leader as signatory to the updated JPS and incorporation of any minor changes as a result of EA or other LPA sign off process.

Reasons for recommendations

To provide updated planning guidance for the District.

Background papers

2017 Joint position Statement re Horning Knackers Wood

Wastewater recycling centre and the updated Anglian Water position through the Anglian water Statement of Fact



 Wards affected


Cabinet member(s)

Andrew Brown Portfolio holder for Planning

Contact Officer

Iain Withington Planning Policy Team Leader



 Links to key documents:

Corporate Plan:

Local homes for local need theme of the Council’s Corporate Plan 2019- 2023 and the cross-cutting delivery mechanism through the emerging Local Plan

Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS)


Council Policies & Strategies

The Councils Development Plan: including the Core Strategy and emerging Local Plan



 Corporate Governance:

Is this a key decision


Has the public interest test been applied


Details of any previous decision(s) on this matter

Previous Joint Position Statement was agreed between the Broads authority, Environment Agency, Anglian Water and NNDC in 2017.



Horning Knackers Wood Updated Joint Position Statement


  1. The PPTL introduced the Officers report and recommendation.  He advised that the joint position statement would aid decision making on development proposals in Horning. The PPTL noted that there was currently an embargo on new homes in the Horning catchment, primarily as the Horning waste water recycling centre lacked the capacity to accommodate further foul flows, which remained significantly above the permitted limit set by the Environment Agency (EA) and license limit.


In 2022 Anglian Water issued a statement of fact and subsequently withdrew from the existing process. Further, since the original joint position statement was signed, Anglian Water had undertaken a number of investigations regarding excessive flows and had concluded that unstable ground conditions in the area were causing structural failures in the public sewage network and privately owned sewage networks. This, in addition with the combined high water table, frequent over topping and high levels of ground water, resulted in infiltration inundations in private and public water systems at multiple points. Significantly, this was estimated to be 200% above the licenses amount and Anglian Water had concluded that there was no single engineering solution.


NNDC had worked with the Broad’s Authority and EA to update the position to remedy the situation. It was considered that there was a real risk of nutrient loading downstream on nationally and locally significant land.


The position would remain that the EA would continue to maintain their objection to development proposals, Anglian Water would still invest and seek solutions, though would not do so in isolation, and would work with the Norfolk Strategic Alliance. The PPTL noted that £5.2 million had been set aside by Anglian Water to improve capacity at the local recycling centre, details of which were available in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan. Ultimately, the settlement was not considered sustainable for long-term growth. 


  1. The Chairman commented that he was surprised that there was no reference to Nutrient Neutrality in the report.


  1. The PPTL advised that the catchment was located outside of the Nutrient Neutrality Zone. 


  1. Cllr A Varley – The Local Member – Thanked Officer’s for their work and engagement. He considered that this was an important issue and argued that the joint position statement would continue to have a significant impact on the community of Horning. The Local Member noted that Horning had a high water environment which provided an ideal habitat for many species of flora and fauna, further improving the quality of life for residents. Cllr A Varley thanked Anglian Water for their comprehensive investigatory works, but concluded that that the issues remained outstanding and expressed his disappointment that Anglian Water had pulled out of the joint statement. Whilst encouraged by mentions of the proposed investment, the Local Member affirmed that additional details including a time scale were required. He noted that the joint statement maintained to serve as an embargo for development, which it was noted would have a significant effect on the ability of the Local Planning Authority to ensure the delivery of affordable and social housing within the Parish. Cllr A Varley affirmed his concern that this would have on residents who were being priced out of their community, and further noted that householder applications would not permit additional WC provision.  Cllr A Varley stated that although this was necessary, it was a frustrating situation. The Local Member considered a collaborative approach was needed, and urged that this be resolved.


  1. Cllr H Blathwayt affirmed the importance of the River Ant with respect of national recreation, with both voluntary and involuntary human immersion. He stated it was important that the river be kept as clean as possible and that the Council had a responsibility to do all in its power to keep the quality of the water in the River Ant and River Bure to be the best it can be.


  1. Cllr V Holliday considered that Anglian Water were getting off fairly lightly, and was disappointed more couldn’t be done. She reflected on the situation in Cley which resulted in an additional treatment tank being cited which had resolved the villages issue. She argued that pressure needed to be applied and Anglian Water held to account. Cllr V Holliday considered other examples around the globe; the Everglades, Venice and Somerset Levels and contended that Anglian Water would benefit from taking note of innovative solutions used elsewhere. With respect of the pledged investment, Cllr V Holliday asked whether this would be earmarked for this area or would be used across the network more broadly.


  1. The PPTL advised that details of the investment were located in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, and the long-term investment plan was still awaiting sign off from off-watt. The PPTL shared Members concern about Anglian Water, but commented that they had, from their perspective, gone above and beyond their remit. There had been a series of illegal connections and an illegal pumping station in the area which Anglian Water were seeking to dismantle and redirect flows back into the river. The PPTL advised that pressure could be applied through the joint parties of the flood alliance. He stated that he was hopeful that a legal requirement would be imposed to ensure investment along the lines of Nutrient Neutrality which would ensure that companies invest in technological advancements to remove nutrients at source.


  1. The Chairman noted the commitment to review the joint positon statement in 12 months.


  1. Cllr P Heinrich considered that this was a typical example of Anglian Water failing to invest in its facilities, whilst at the same time giving money to foreign investors which he argued should be spent locally. He commented that the Local Authority had little power to change things, and endorsed water services being brought back under state control. Cllr P Heinrich stressed that investment was needed in Horning and elsewhere in the district to support current and future housing developments. He stated that Anglian Water must be held to account and that they must ensure appropriate infrastructure was in situ. Cllr P Heinrich contended that Anglian Water should be brought before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and explain their actions.


  1. The Chairman reflected that Anglian Water often supported development applications and guarantee connections, however the reality was that there were issues of capacity in many areas of the district.


  1. Cllr N Dixon considered that the strategic context needed to be understood. He affirmed that he had spent several years looking into issues of this ilk in Hoveton, which also suffers the same problems as Horning. Cllr N Dixon stated that he had worked with Anglian Water to understand the problem and to look at solutions, whilst technically the problems could be solved through engineering means, this would involve a huge proportion of investment. With other issues of water quality and water cycle, hard choices needed to be made where investment was committed. He noted that money had been spent in Horning to try and address the leaky laterals, but this was an ongoing process which Mother Nature would continue to present ongoing work.


Cllr N Dixon stated the need to be realistic, and commented that it was important not to lose sight of the big picture. He contended that whilst the Council could criticise the actions of Anglian Water and other water companies, with respect of this particular problem at Horning, would likely not be any different under a different arrangement with water companies. The issue remained that development had taken place in an area with a high groundwater level, leading to water getting in the system, therefore whatever system was introduced at Knackers Wood or Beeler wouldn’t tackle the issue, particularly under heavy rainfall conditions.


  1. Cllr H Blathwayt recalled the construction of Knackers Wood and mains drainage being introduced to Horning. He noted that it was agreed at that time, before Anglian Water look over, that Knackers Wood would be inadequate.


  1. Cllr A Varley proposed acceptance of the Officer recommendation, he stated that he was a realist and was aware that, for the time being, the statement needed to be taken into effect to ensued that no development took place which may have a detrimental impact on the river and the special environment.


  1. Cllr H Blathwayt seconded the Officers recommendation.




Members of the Planning Policy & Built Heritage Working Party note the contents of the updated Joint Position Statement and recommend to Cabinet that it authorises the Assistant Director of Planning in conjunction with the Planning Policy Team Leader as signatory to the updated JPS and incorporation of any minor changes as a result of EA or other LPA sign off process.


Supporting documents: