Homes scheme criticised for lack of play space... again

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

Dereham once again faces having a new housing scheme approved despite objections from its town council’s over a lack of play space.

Dereham Town Council (DTC) said a planned development of 48 homes on land off Greenfields Road should be turned down because of a “gross under-provision” of space for children. 

Developers plan to create 200 square metres of outdoor play space. The council argues that 2,590 square metres should be provided.

It follows similar objections from DTC to at least two other housing schemes it claimed did not provide large enough areas for children.

Matthew Homes Ltd has permission in principle to build the Greenfields Road homes, but at a meeting next week, Breckland District Council’s (BDC) planning committee will decide whether to grant permission for the scheme’s finer details. Planning officers are recommending that the development be approved.

In a written representation, however, DTC has raised its objection. Its concerns have been echoed by local district councillor Alison Webb who said: “There is a total failure to provide adequate outdoor playing space.”

Both DTC and Ms Webb have also objected to the plan’s inclusion of a set of 11 steps over a pre-existing embankment, which borders the south and west of the development. 

Alison Webb, Brecklands executive member for housing, health and environment. Picture: Keith Mindham

Conservative district councillor for Dereham Neatherd, Alison Webb. - Credit: Photo: Keith Mindham Photography

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The steps would lead to Hall Lane -  a footpath running along the town’s edge - but DTC said the steps could be inaccessible to some residents.

Thrive Architects, which is serving as the agent to Matthew Homes Ltd, was approached for comment.

In 2018, DTC complained that planning officers working on BDC’s behalf had misinterpreted a policy dictating the amount of outdoor play space required for a neighbouring 279-home development on Greenfields Road.

The complaint prompted BDC to obtain legal advice and the applicant, Orbit Homes, to alter its plans. 

Local MP George Freeman called it “a victory for common sense” and “a victory for the children of Dereham”.

Some space concerns remained when the new plans were submitted and approved however. 

At the end of last year, DTC received legal advice stating that a 100-home development off Westfield Road in Toftwood was failing to provide £220,000 for off-site sports space - but the homes were still approved by district councillors

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