A plan to build a new 5,000-home town north of Dereham has been proposed. It has been dubbed a ‘railway village’ and would lie close to the Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) at North Elmham. NOAH VICKERS explains why the line might play a key role in the project

The MNR - today operated as a heritage attraction - was at one time part of a national rail route which ran from Wymondham through the heart of the county, ultimately connecting up to Wells-next-the-Sea.

It gradually closed in various sections over the course of the 1960s and re-opened to passengers in its current form in the 1990s.

A group called the Melton Constable Trust have over several years been pursuing a project known as the Norfolk Orbital Railway.

They propose creating a circular rail route utilising the MNR, linking up with the National Rail at Wymondham and running round to Norwich and up to Sheringham via the Bittern Line.

From Sheringham, they suggest utilising the existing North Norfolk Railway to Holt, and finally building a new stretch of track between Holt and Fakenham, and down to the northern tip of the MNR.

A major new town of 5,000 homes on the route would provide significant impetus to such ambitious plans, with politicians and planners increasingly keen to make sure proposed new housing developments are well served by public transport.