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Dereham housing schemes recommended for approval despite widespread concerns

PUBLISHED: 11:25 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:25 02 February 2017

The proposed 300 homes near Toftwood in Dereham. Picture: Glavenhill Strategic Land.

The proposed 300 homes near Toftwood in Dereham. Picture: Glavenhill Strategic Land.

© Archant Norfolk 2015

Two major housing applications come before Breckland planners on Monday which could see another 500 homes being built in Dereham.

The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian BurtThe proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt

Two major housing applications come before Breckland planners on Monday, which could see another 500 homes being built in Dereham.

Glavenhill Strategic Land wants outline permission for a minimum of 291 homes on land off Shipdham Road, Westfield Road and Westfield Lane in Toftwood.

While Avant Homes is applying for outline permission for up to 216 homes on land off Swanton Road, to the north of Dereham.

In a report to planners, both applications are recommended for approval despite numerous concerns being raised about effects on the already congested roads, lack of infrastructure with doctors’ surgeries and schools already at capacity, loss of countryside and wildlife habitats and sewerage limitations.

Plans for 216 homes off Swanton Road in Dereham.  Picture: Avant HomesPlans for 216 homes off Swanton Road in Dereham. Picture: Avant Homes

Glavenhill

Objections to Glavenhill’s application have come from The Open Spaces Society, The Ramblers, town and parish councils and in 172 letters from the general public.

Natural England had raised objections, but these have now been withdrawn.

Kirsty Heath, spokesman for Toftwood Life Community campaign group, said she hoped all large housing developments were refused, or at the very least deferred, until Breckland’s Local Plan was completed and there were definitive solutions to the traffic and sewerage problems.

She said: “Some residents of Boyd Avenue experienced some flooding last year where they had to move out for a period of time. When I spoke to one of the fire service at last year’s Memorial Hall meeting he was shocked that they would consider developing on that land after he had been part of the clear-up operation in these homes.”

The Highways Authority initially recommended refusal but changed its view to “no objection, subject to conditions”, based on evidence provided in the district council commissioned Dereham Transport Study.

But Dereham Town Council has already highlighted irregularities in the tranport study and a Transport Assessment submitted with the application which, it says, “contains assumptions not supported by facts”.

The report to planners states: “The TA identifies that there would be no adverse residual effects resulting from the development and that roads that could be considered sensitive in the vicinity of the site will be largely unaffected by the proposed development, provided appropriate mitigation regarding traffic routing is in place during the development.”

It concludes: “Whilst the council can now demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, the council must continue to support these applications which represent sustainable development in appropriate locations. Whilst local concerns are acknowledged there is no substantive evidence to suggest that the proposal would have a significant adverse effect on local infrastructure, highway safety and convenience or residential amenity.”

Avant

The Avant application off Swanton Road has attracted similar concerns of traffic congestion, particularly at the Kings Road/Wellington Road junction, and also loss of grade two agricultural land.

The town council also points out the “limitations of foul water disposal in Dereham are well recognised” and a proposed roundabout on Swanton Road would not be good for pedestrians.

The Environment Agency also states that “development will lead to an unacceptable risk of flooding downstream if it were to connect to the existing sewerage system without mitigation”.

Councillor Alison Webb, who famously brought two jars of sewage into a previous planning meeting, said she “strongly objects due to lack of strategy for the management of waste water in Dereham”.

Swanton Morley parish council says development on the site should only be considered when a link road has been established from Corners Nursery to the football ground which would divert traffic away from the town centre.

The report to planners states: “Whilst the loss of greenfield land is regrettable, it is inevitable if the council is to achieve its housing growth aspirations.”

It adds: “By the time the current proposed development is likely to be occupied, Anglian Water should have addressed the issues regarding foul sewage capacity in Dereham.”

The planning meeting starts at 9.30am on Monday, February 6, in the Anglia Room at the Breckland Council offices in Dereham.

* What do you think? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk

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