Dereham town council ‘worried and disappointed’ by changes to Breckland draft local plan

Breckland Council, at Elizabeth House in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council, at Elizabeth House in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A Norfolk council which voted unanimously to approve a draft local plan is facing criticism from a town council for 'disappointing and worrying' issues.

Gordon Bambridge. Photo: Breckland Council

Gordon Bambridge. Photo: Breckland Council - Credit: Archant

Breckland Council voted to accept changes from the planning inspector to a draft of its local plan, which included removing five and three dwelling restrictions on development in the district's most rural areas.

But despite being reluctant to approve the changes, Breckland councillors were criticised by Dereham town council, who said their concerns weren't listened to.

Antony Needham, town council clerk, said: 'There are a number of issues with the local plan that are disappointing and worrying.

'Breckland Council did not listen to the town council when it raised concerns the local plan had not allocated sufficient employment land in Dereham.'

He added: 'The proposed rewording means small rural settlements in Breckland are no longer protected. These rural settlements and hamlets will now be open to the same unplanned and hostile housing developments as towns.'

Mr Needham said councillors were also concerned that the planning inspector required an early review of the local plan; the viability of delivery of highways improvements to Dereham, including a junction at South Green and Tavern Lane and a roundabout at Yaxham Road; as well as the lack of development in Thetford putting pressure on the district.

READ MORE: Councillors approve Breckland local plan changes 'with a heavy heart'

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A Breckland Council spokesperson, said: 'We have now reached another milestone in our local plan development, after councillors agreed to accept the inspector's changes and proceed to a public consultation on the proposed modifications to the plan.

'We urge local people to look out for this consultation early in the new year and to share their views on the proposed changes, so we can share them with the planning inspector before a final plan is agreed in 2019.'

Responding to the concerns raised by the town council, they added: 'The inspector has not required modifications to the amount of employment land in the district, including in and around Dereham.

'He has however suggested that parts of the Local Plan be reviewed after adoption so that the full effects of the dualling of the A47 can be taken into account for the remaining life of the plan which runs to 2036.

'One of the modifications is to amend some of the criteria included in the rural housing policies.

'However, it retains an overall growth cap for settlements with boundaries, as well as retaining criteria that seek to ensure that developments comprise sensitive infilling, as well as the design contributing to the historic nature of communities and that it does not harm any visually important gap that contributes to local distinctiveness.

'The inspector has not required any main modifications around the approach to development in Dereham or the mitigation measures outlined in the supporting Dereham Transport Study.

'Future housing is expected to help contribute towards highways improvements.

'The planning inspector confirmed that the council is expected to have a five year land supply when the local plan is adopted.'