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Open space plan put on hold

PUBLISHED: 13:31 27 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:28 07 July 2010

Controversial proposals to sell off council-owned open spaces for housing were put on hold and will be reviewed after a row broke out over the issue.

About 40 residents of the Boyd Avenue estate in Dereham packed into a full Breckland Council meeting on Thursday and clapped and cheered as opposition members launched an impassioned attack on the idea of developing on green land.

Controversial proposals to sell off council-owned open spaces for housing were put on hold and will be reviewed after a row broke out over the issue.

About 40 residents of the Boyd Avenue estate in Dereham packed into a full Breckland Council meeting on Thursday and clapped and cheered as opposition members launched an impassioned attack on the idea of developing on green land.

The green at Laburnum Crescent was one of 11 sites on a list drawn up by the council and backed by the cabinet to be looked at for possible disposal.

But at the end of a fiery debate council leader William Nunn proposed that the policy should be reviewed and plans to spend £130,000 on consultants to look at the issue should be put on hold.

Labour leader Robin Goreham said he was pleased at the announcement of the review and had earlier savaged the idea of building on green spaces such as at Boyd Avenue.

“If you build on these 11 pieces of land it will only be the beginning.”

He said there was a shortfall of more than 50 acres of open space in Dereham, so more should be provided and not less.

Fellow Labour councillor Michael Fanthorpe said: “This estate was built as a model development in 1962 and there were green spaces and it was a perfect situation. Then along comes the council's cabinet and thinks to themselves they can build on it and make some money.

“This is a retrograde step. This is a test case and if they succeed the whole district is at risk.”

Conservative councillor Cliff Jordan - who said he personally was opposed to Boyd Avenue land being developed - said the government was forcing councils to get land valued and look at possible options for it.

Mr Nunn said: “We are a listening council and people's concerns will be taken up. I am happy for it to be put back to scrutiny to make sure we are getting it right.”

He said sites in other communities in Breckland land had been re-developed with the support of local people.

The Boyd Avenue residents are worried about the potential loss of the green space and also extra traffic, especially as plans have recently been approved for a new day nursery at the entrance to the estate.

After the meeting they vowed to fight on and cautiously welcomed the review.

Kirsty Heath, who has children aged two and 11 months, said: “We are no further forward. There are real concerns about traffic if there was more housing.”

Dorothy Oldman said: “It is a little bit more hopeful but we need to keep pushing.”

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