“That’s just the latest one rejected,” said a council source, speaking on condition of anonymity, “and some time ago we thought it’d be worth having a new strategy, which we did over lunch in that carvery place. The thing is, we know that people love houses, living in them all the time and complaining they can’t buy them and all, so why are they saying no to more of them? It don’t make sense, unless you realise, as we did, that people object for another simple reason.”
The other reason was that the applications weren’t big enough.
“People like to see ambition,” the source continued, “People like to see vision. People want to see us get one up on those folks out in Norwich. So we’re going to give it to them. We called it our ‘nuclear option'”
The ‘Nuclear Option’, under secret development for the last six months in a padlocked portakabin outside Elizabeth House (thus indistinguishable to the passerby), is staggering in its ambition and scale. The council will shortly recommend the entirety of the Norfolk’s five-year housing target, some two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand homes, to be built in and around Yaxham, which will in turn be designated as a new garden city.
“It’s economies of scale, isn’t it?” explained the council source, “People mutter about schools and roundabouts and all that. Well, if we attract a million people, you can forget the schools and roundabouts, we’ll haul enough council tax to build a couple of universities and a metro system.”
In the absence of strong competition, the conurbation is already tipped as a strong contender for UK Capital of Culture 2020.
There is more than a hint of marketing in the plan. The houses will fill the entirety of the Tudd valley flood plain connecting the new city with Dereham which will, controversially, become a district of “Greater Yaxham” or another moniker already catching on: “Yaxopolis”
“Yaxham’s got a better brand, hasn’t it?” suggested one resident, “It’s easier for the GPS. With Dereham, there’s always that worry you’ll end up in the weird one out in the fens.”
In other developments, Dereham windmill will be fixed permanently south and renamed ‘The Yaxham Eye’. Cutthroat Lane, a curiously straight and perpendicular road, will become central to a new grid system, and renamed First Avenue.
St Peter’s Church is to be reconsecrated as Yaxham Cathedral. An ill-tempered spokesman from the Norwich Diocese acknowledged that there was no technical minimum size for a cathedral.
“We recognise we’ll need top talent to manage this,” continued the council source, “but even the CEO of Carillion has recently found time to get involved in the project – not bad eh?”
Local residents were generally positive about the leaked plans.
“It is ambitious, yes.” mused local Janet Godwin, “but it was going to happen sometime, weren’t it? I’m just glad that Mattishall didn’t get there first, you’d never hear the end of it.”