'It's a shame for the town' - development approved despite lawyer's warning

Persimmon Homes has permission to build 100 homes off Westfield Road in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Persimmon Homes has permission to build 100 homes off Westfield Road in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Planning permission for 100 homes has been granted at a Norfolk council despite concerns the plans fail to provide £220,000 of off-site sports space.  

At a meeting of Breckland District Council’s planning committee on Monday, February 15, councillors looked at plans for housing on land east of Westfield Road in Toftwood. 

Letters sent by Leathes Prior Solicitors, on behalf of Dereham Town Council, claimed there were “fundamental flaws” in an agreement signed by Breckland and Persimmon Homes over the amount of outdoor play space. 

Breckland District Council

Breckland District Council’s planning committee approved the plans on Monday, February 15 - Credit: Ian Burt

Persimmon Homes is set to provide Breckland with £76,548 to cover the cost of laying out and maintaining about 3000sqm of off-site space, but the solicitors warned the land value of £220,000 should also have been included

Dereham Town Council clerk, Antony Needham, called on the committee to defer the application until the amount was corrected. 

He said: “An honest mistake has been made in the drafting of the agreement, unfortunately, the value of that mistake makes the community poorer in outdoor playing space to a value of around £220,000.” 

Planning officer Rebecca Collins said the amount of space could not be discussed at the meeting and only the five reserved matters of “access, appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale” could be considered. 


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Speaking on behalf of the developer, Jessica Groome, said the plans would deliver a significant number of high-quality homes and assist in meeting the housing needs of the district. 

Ms Groome said council officers had asked them to increase the house sizes to meet national space standards, reducing the amount of outdoor space on site. 

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

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Speaking after the meeting, Mr Needham said it was disappointing that the district council and Persimmons were not “willing to correct the mistakes in their legal agreement”.  

He said: “It is a shame for Dereham, Dereham has a deficit of outdoor playing space, if the legal agreement had been worded correctly there would be an additional £220,000 to invest in new playing space provision. 

 “It is also disappointing that after being told that the town council would be able to raise its concerns with the committee, the committee was then told that it could not discuss any of these issues or take them into consideration.” 

The application passed with seven voting for, three against and one abstention.  

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