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‘This is profit ahead of the community’ - backlash against housing application in Norfolk town

PUBLISHED: 18:15 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:15 13 December 2017

District councillor Alison Webb pictured close to the development site.  Picture: Ian Burt

District councillor Alison Webb pictured close to the development site. Picture: Ian Burt

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A housing developer is being accused of putting profit ahead of the community by failing to provide enough outdoor playing space with a proposed 280-home scheme in Dereham.

The site plan for the Greenfields Road development. Picture: Orbit Homes The site plan for the Greenfields Road development. Picture: Orbit Homes

A report to Breckland Council planners, who meet on Monday, acknowledges there are concerns over play areas but states the quantity of open land planned for the 280-house development, near Greenfields Road, is enough to facilitate an even distribution of play space. The officer is recommending approval.

However, Breckland councillor Alison Webb and Dereham Town Council say that the available space is fragmented and does not meet the standards required under Breckland’s planning policy.

A development of this size should provide a minimum of two LEAPs (Local Equipped Area for Play) and an outdoor sports area, they say.

Mrs Webb said: “This is profit being put ahead of the well-being of the community and that is just not good enough. The way it has been put forward it not what is best for the community of Dereham. There must be enough green outdoor playing space.”

A spokesman for the town council called the policy “very clear” and said the development should provide a sports area totalling 11,280 square metres but at present it has only 3,200.

“Dereham has a shortfall of outdoor playing spaces equivalent to 175,000 square metres,” he said. “It is therefore vitally important that developers fulfil their obligations to provide outdoor playing space and are not allowed to put profit before children’s play.”

It is the third time that the Orbit Homes application has been set to go before the planning committee.

Withdrawal at the request of Orbit Homes in July came shortly after Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman sent a damning letter to the district council, stating that “people are increasingly fed up with lazy and greedy development” and echoed concerns over outdoor playing space.

But the officer’s report adds that environmental and social impacts have been considered and mitigated and it is unlikely to have a negative impact on local infrastructure. It also highlights that the development will make a “significant contribution towards the supply of housing, including affordable housing”.

MORE: Controversial bid to build 285 homes in Dereham pulled from planning meeting

MORE: Residents raise concerns ahead of decision on 285 homes

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