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Fears over ‘hostile’ planning applications in Dereham

PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 March 2017

Campaign groups have been formed to fight housing developments in Dereham which are deemed unacceptable, such as the 62 new homes at Neatherd Moor in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Campaign groups have been formed to fight housing developments in Dereham which are deemed unacceptable, such as the 62 new homes at Neatherd Moor in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham feels as if it “has a gun at its head” with regard to approving large scale housing applications, a Breckland Council meeting heard.

Protesters walk across land that may be developed for housing on the edge of Tofwood Protesters walk across land that may be developed for housing on the edge of Tofwood

Members of the Local Plan Working Group, who met to discuss a development strategy for Dereham, were told by town and parish councils that developers were putting through “hostile” applications because Breckland had set a high new housing target for Dereham to meet over the life of the plan.

The market town has been allocated a total of 750 new homes to be built over the next 20 years and were told the numbers were needed to ensure Breckland maintained its five year housing land supply.

A report by Stephen Ottewell, director of planning and building control at Breckland, said that while Dereham was significantly larger than the other market towns of Swaffham and Watton its growth, in proportion, was lower.

But he added that a high proportion of Dereham residents also worked in the area.

His report cited five sites that could bring forward the 750 new homes - Etling View west, west of Shipdham Road, Swanton Road, rear of Dereham Hospital and east of Shipdham Road.

Town council clerk Tony Needham said it felt as if Dereham was being forced to accept unreasonable and unpopular applications to protect other settlements.

While town mayor Phillip Duigan said “hostile” applications had been put through when developers discovered the high target Dereham had been set.

Roger Atterwill, chairman of Swanton Morley parish council, added: “It feels as if there is a gun being held at Dereham’s head to deliver sites to protect the rest of the district. And they have to happen early or the five year housing land supply will run out.”

Dereham town councillor Linda Monument said it was key to get infrastructure in place before houses were built as there were still concerns about how the inadequate sewerage network would cope as well as the congestion on the roads.

Gordon Bambridge, chairman of the working group, said all sites would have to make their own mitigation statements.

“The current rate of building in Dereham is just one house a week,” he said. “I am assured that our five year housing land supply is robust and future planning will be addressed as it goes along.”

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