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Hopes rise for Dereham green dream

PUBLISHED: 14:49 20 August 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 July 2010

DEREHAM could strike gold if a dream for a green revolution in the town becomes reality.

With the success of our Olympics team on everyone's lips, more sports pitches could be created as well as a country park and more footpaths and cycle ways.

DEREHAM could strike gold if a dream for a green revolution in the town becomes reality.

With the success of our Olympics team on everyone's lips, more sports pitches could be created as well as a country park and more footpaths and cycle ways.

People could also get grants to encourage wildlife into their gardens as part of the green plan.

The Times reported last month about the idea for the wide-ranging green infrastructure initiative, and more details emerged during a public meeting and exhibition this week.

Officials admit the plans are “broad brush” and detailed discussions have not been held with landowners and the proposals could cost “a lot of money.”

But the will seems to exist among county, district and town councils to realise the dream.

They have shared in the £17,500 cost of a study - carried out by consultants ELP - into what Dereham currently has and what is needed in the future.

The country park could be on farmland near Dumpling Green and it also emerged at the exhibition that there are two proposed sites for a new town cemetery, which is needed as the existing one will be full in about five years' time.

Land near Dereham Business Park off Yaxham Road and near the football club on Norwich Road are the areas suggested.

As reported on page 10 this week, the town council discussed the two sites last week but the locations of them only came into the public arena on Tuesday.

There would be six green corridors around the town going north/south and east/west, and among the other possible proposals in the plan are a sports field for Toftwood on land between Westfield Road and the Rash's Green Industrial Estate.

Mike Harding, an ecologist with ELP, said all of the plans may not be possible and funding would be an issue - but there was scope to make real improvements. This is a menu. Some things may not work and if only a few things get done it would make Dereham a better place. It is a question of partnerships.” He said there was dense development in Dereham but there was scope around the town's edges for more open spaces.

Mr Harding also said the Dereham area was “blessed” with wildlife sites.

He suggested the Market Place could be given a “continental feel” with more trees

Mr Harding said the green garden scheme - where people get grants for encouraging wildlife by projects such as creating ponds and putting in plants to encourage insects - had been successfully trialled in Cumbria.

Dereham mayor Lynda Turner described the initiative as a “green vision” for Dereham which would have a wide variety of benefits for the town.

She said research revealed that a higher amount and quality of open space would improve health, reduce crime and increase the quality of life.

Breckland principal planning officer David Spencer said Dereham would be getting 500 new homes and 1,800 new jobs over the next 20 years as part of continued expansion and he said the green infrastructure had to be improved.

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