Village split on plans for holiday park

Residents of a mid-Norfolk village have been split down the middle over plans some say could be the hamlet's ruin while others think it could be its making.

Residents of a mid-Norfolk village have been split down the middle over plans some say could be the hamlet's ruin while others think it could be its making.

Developers bought and want to develop a former garden centre at Yaxham, near Dereham, into a holiday lodge and caravan park with café and shop.

THPD Properties has already opened a farm shop on the site - nearly a year after their original plans for 100, then 50 lodges, were thrown out.

But while many have been won over by the new, smaller scheme of 25 lodges, with touring caravan and tent park, café and shop, the village was split down the middle at their packed parish council meeting on Thursday night after a letter dropping campaign by the opposition.

Six village residents stood up to speak in favour of the scheme and six, four of whom were couples, stood up to speak against the it.

Some said it would create traffic safety issues, cause environmental problems, increase flooding, potentially contaminate fields and see loss of vital farming land.

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Others thought it would breath new life into the village, bring jobs and people to use their facilities and that issues raised could be overcome.

Pablo Dimoglou, one of the men behind the scheme, attended the meeting with his wife, Becky, nee Jago, a former Anglia TV weathergirl and mum of their twin boys.

He said the responses were 1,000pc better than last year and was glad so many people had supported his scheme.

He said: “We have tried to give back something with the farm shop, it is part of the application and it will not close if it happens.

“It's taken eight months to get this report put together. We are trying to do something for the people of Yaxham.”

His planning consultant, Graham Williams, said the scheme was the result of a lot of work to address people's concerns from when the project was discussed last year.

He added Mr Dimoglou's firm got awards for their existing sites at Dunwich in Suffolk and Beeston Regis in north Norfolk.

One sticking point had been that no where in the application had they said how many touring caravans and tents would be allowed on the site.

After the meeting Mr Dimoglou said he expected there would be about 15 touring caravans and the same number of tents.

The parish council voted four against, one for and one abstention over the scheme. One councillor originally for the scheme had later changed his mind.

Their comments will be passed on the Breckland Council whose development control board will decide if it should be given planning permission.

What the people thought

Against -

A Mr Hinchley, of St Peters Close, said the turning into the site was too dangerous: “It's a no go for me.”

Nick Anema, who farms land near the site, had concerns about drainage not being sufficient and effecting farmland and fish in nearby watercourses, including rare Bullhead fish and trout.

Susan Martin, Norwich Road, was concerned there was no mention of how many caravans would be on the site, was worried about traffic safety and lack of central reservation for turning and said it was “too much in the wrong position”.

Ian Martin, Norwich Road, supported the shop but said the rest of the scheme amounted to putting second homes on agricultural land.

Karen Willis, who grazes rare breeds on adjacent fields, said it shouldn't be changed from agricultural land and thought the caravans would be visible through trees in winter.

Clarke Willis, Cut Throat Lane, who admitted to being involved in putting out a letter alerting people to the scheme, was concerned about loss of agricultural land and said it did not address sustainability issues.

For -

Rob Thomas, Station Road, said it could be a good thing for the village and: “we need people like this putting money in to the village and creating jobs.”

Michael Tilney, of Clint Green, said he was against the original scheme but had now changed his mind. “What are these people doing wrong,” he said.

Barry Rocheforth praised the shop and said the caravans would be out of view but had concerns about traffic but said these could be overcome with a 40mph limit from Dereham to Yaxham and a footway for pedestrians.

Peter Muir from Station Road also said he was in favour and that traffic and environmental issues could be overcome.

Simon Salter, of Whinburgh Road, said he had also changed his mind to be in favour of the scheme after visiting the applicants current site at Dunwich with a local farmer who “was all for it”. “It will do credit to the village.”

Ian Faircloth said he supported the scheme on condition that it is restricted to 25 lodges as a conservation area and drainage and access were looked at.