A new wetland will be built near a rural village after the bid was approved by councillors.

An area of land of more than 17 hectares - the equivalent of 32 football pitches - will be turned into a wildlife haven near the village of Guist.

The application by housing developers Persimmon Homes, which has plans to build hundreds of homes in the area, was unanimously approved by Breckland Council members on Tuesday.

Dereham Times: Where the new wetland will be built in GuistWhere the new wetland will be built in Guist (Image: Google)

It is hoped it will help improve water quality in the River Wensum and create a wildlife haven that will improve biodiversity.

The wetland is part of an effort to create several in the county which experts hope will 'soak up' - or 'neutralise' - harmful pollution generated by new housing to prevent it from ending up in Norfolk's rivers.

It is thought the site will store the same amount of phosphate levels produced by 600 homes a year.

Michelle Baker, Managing Director of Persimmon Homes Anglia said: “We’re very proud of the new wetland that we are going to create in Guist, which will unlock much-needed new homes in the area and improve water quality.

“As a business, we take our environmental responsibilities extremely seriously, and I am delighted that we have brought forward a high-quality, nature-based solution that offers so many environmental benefits.

“We’ll be starting work on the new wetland early next year and look forward to its completion by early Summer.”

The wetland will be built on land to the south of the Norwich/Fakenham Road (A1067) to the south and southeast of Guist.

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Dereham Times: Wetlands are important habitats for a range of species, particularly birds and insectsWetlands are important habitats for a range of species, particularly birds and insects (Image: Denise Bradley)

The project would create three ponds through which the flow of water from the Foulsham tributary of the River Wensum would be diverted via a dam or small weir.

Persimmon Homes says it will improve water quality downstream and allow it to deliver new home schemes in the river catchment area.

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It was approved by a unanimous vote and was widely supported by councillors and environmental groups.

Although there were concerns that it would not do enough to protect the River Wensum against pollution.

Chairman of Breckland Council planning committee, Nigel Wilkin, called it a "good news story" for a change.

"We are not just covering the district in concrete - we also welcome this type of scheme coming forward."