Questions raised about cost of managing Neatherd Moor amid council transfer

A path on the Neatherd Moor

Dereham Town Council has raised several questions over the management of Neatherd Moor - Credit: Noah Vickers

Questions have been raised over the transfer of management of one of Dereham's most popular outdoor spaces after a council said it wanted clarity over costs. 

The ownership of Neatherd Moor in the town is in the process of being transferred from Breckland District Council (BDC) to Dereham Town Council (DTC).

However, the move has stalled after DTC raised several factors to consider before it takes over.

Back in October 2021, BDC councillors voted to release funds to enable the transfer of management of the moor to DTC, ending a 111-year-long agreement.

Neatherd Moor, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The transfer of Neatherd Moor from Breckland Council to Dereham Town Council has stalled - Credit: Archant

Dereham’s Heritage and Open Spaces Committee discussed the risks and options for taking over the management at its meeting on February 22.

BDC was set to give DTC £150,000 to maintain the 47-acre common into the future.

However, a report to the committee's next meeting states that this figure would leave the council short, and for it to be cost-neutral the offer would have to either be a £200,000 lump sum or £8,000 per year.

The moor has up until now been owned by DTC but managed by BDC - the result of a 1910 agreement which BDC cabinet member Paul Hewett said “isn’t fit for the 21st century” and had resulted in “a number of issues actually for decades, in terms of who does what". 

Neatherd Moor in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Neatherd Moor in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

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The committee recommended that the town council arranged a survey on the ditches and culverts on the Neatherd.

It raised a number of factors to consider on taking over management, including, “Going back to Breckland Council and asking for a cost-neutral offer, finding out which streams and culverts Dereham Town Council would be responsible for and conformation that they would be brought up to a good standard before handover".

It also raised questions about how much insurance would increase by and how any byelaws would be enforced.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said: “BDC has made an offer to the town council which would enable the town council to take over control and management of Neatherd Moor.

“This will enable the management and maintenance of this important community space to be vested in one organisation for greater efficiency.

“We are looking forward to hearing back from the town council following its review of the proposal.”