Town claims back lanes after fence put up by developer draws complaints

District councillor Alison Webb is unhappy about the fence Orbit Homes has erected on Cherry Lane, D

District councillor Alison Webb is unhappy about the fence Orbit Homes has erected on Cherry Lane, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A mid-Norfolk town has claimed back part of its land after being given the green light for a restricted byway.

It comes following an application made by Dereham Town Council to the planning inspectorate, supported with evidence from hundreds of residents, after concerns over land which runs along the A47.

The issue came to light in 2016 after walkers complained about the fencing erected by developer Orbit Homes ahead of proposals for housing on land at Greenfields Lane. They said it was too narrow and made it uncomfortable passing people coming the other way.

Shortly after this, the town council began preparing evidence so that Cherry Lane and Hall Lane, which run alongside the site, could be claimed as public rights of way to ensure its future use.

People who had used the lanes for the past 20 years were asked to come forward to supply evidence, and hundreds responded to the appeal . Now an order decision from the planning inspectorate, dated August 3, has confirmed six routes to the east of Dereham as restricted byways, subject to modifications set out in the formal decision.

It comes following last week's decision by Breckland Council to approve plans to build 279 new homes on land at Greenfields Lane, despite fierce opposition from residents, groups and councillors. But continuing to ensure the future of Dereham's green infrastructure, the town council is pressing on with plans to develop green spaces and ecological networks following a meeting of the council on July 24.

Phillip Duigan, a Dereham town and Breckland district councillor, said the market town had become so popular over the past few years due to the efforts being made to provide more facilities.

He said: 'All these things make the town a much better place to live in.'

There are plans to secure additional open space in the south of the town, which could deliver extra formal sports pitches as well as improvements to wildlife.

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While areas of Neatherd Moor will be earmarked to be brought into a coherent management plan for environmental benefits and enjoyment of people.