Plan for 48 homes wins narrow approval

An aerial view of Greenfields Road, where a plan has been lodged for 48 new homes

The plan proposes that the 48 homes go up on the oval-shaped field in the centre of the image. - Credit: Google

A controversial plan for 48 new homes in Dereham has been narrowly approved, despite concerns raised by the town council.

A mixture of two, three and four bedroom homes - all of which will be two-storey - are set to go up on land off Greenfields Road.

Matthew Homes Ltd already had permission in principle for the houses, but at a Monday meeting of Breckland District Council’s planning committee, members voted 6 to 4 in favour of the finer details of the scheme.

Dereham Town Council (DTC) had raised concerns ahead of the meeting about how much and what type of open space would be provided by the development.  

At the meeting, Breckland council officers explained that although the applicant was proposing more children’s play space than required, the site was too small to provide any sports space. 

Peter Morgan of Thrive Architects, serving as agent to Matthew Homes, said the scheme would provide more open space than is required in total, despite the lack of sports provision.

Mr Morgan also questioned the usefulness of the required 2,147sqm of sports space, saying it was roughly a third of a standard football pitch and wouldn’t even deliver an under-11 sized football pitch. 

Labour councillor Mike Brindle said this suggestion amounted to a “straw dog” - a variation of the phrase 'straw man'.

Mike Brindle, town councillor for Thetford. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Labour district councillor Mike Brindle - Credit: Norfolk County Council

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“Nobody had suggested there should be a space for a 6,000sqm football pitch - the proposal made was that there might be space to accommodate a five-a-side pitch, which is a third of that size and quite different,” he said. 

Green councillor Philip Morton said: “At present the Dereham area is short of open space and play area to the extent of 34 hectares - this deficit will keep getting bigger, if we have piecemeal developments that don’t add to [resolving] this.”

Councillor Philip Morton raised concern about the space available for children's play.

Green district councillor Philip Morton - Credit: Submitted

Officers assured councillors that a financial sum could be sought from the developer to provide an off-site sports space, but this would require DTC to have a proposed scheme for such a space. 

They said those conversations could take place at a later stage in the planning process - and that the agent has been asked to approach DTC at that stage. 

Concerns were also raised about the accessibility of a proposed set of steps, which will cross over a trench at the south of the site.

Officers said the steps should be supported however, because a slope would cut into the trench and reduce its sound-proofing benefits. 

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