Villagers wary over Bradenham homes plan

Chris HillA developer's pledge to revitalise an ailing Norfolk community by building 14 new homes and offering �40,000 towards public projects has brought a wary reaction from villagers.Chris Hill

A developer's pledge to revitalise an ailing Norfolk community by building 14 new homes and offering �40,000 towards public projects has brought a wary reaction from villagers.

The EDP reported yesterday the shock among residents in Bradenham, near Dereham, at the sudden closure of their last pub, the Lord Nelson, coupled with the withdrawal of the post office services which were based there.

But Clayland Homes has tabled plans for a 'flagship development' which company bosses believe could breathe new life into the village by re-building its potential to grow and encourage businesses and services back.

The Hale Road scheme is to build eight three and four-bedroom bungalows and houses for sale on the open market, which would subsidise a further six 'local needs' homes to be let by Hastoe Housing Association to people who live in Bradenham or have direct family links there.

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As part of the plans, the developer has promised to give the parish council �40,000 which could help to fund a new cricket pavilion or village hall improvements. That could be boosted by a recreational contribution of another �11,000 which must be paid to Breckland Council if the scheme is approved.

But the offer met a cautious response from some villagers, who remain unsure of the impact the development could have on their tiny village, and whether the promises will be honoured.

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Chris Tilley, managing director of Clayland Homes, said: 'The �40,000 is coming straight from the developer's pocket and we said the parish council could use it for whatever use they see fit.

'Some people have said that having lost the pub and the post office, the village cannot support this new development. But I think it is the reverse. We are providing housing for local people and bringing eight new families into Bradenham who could support this wonderful Norfolk village and its amenities. If this application is not approved it is an opportunity missed.'

Parish council chairman Chris Allhusen said the village had been offered similar assurances about 'local housing' by previous developers which had not been adhered to.

'We acknowledge the need for new housing, but for the residents we are very wary because we have been here before,' he said.

'Any agreement would be between the developer and Hastoe Housing, and if Breckland Council changes its requirements in ten years time because there are people outside Bradenham who need the properties, then we would have no say in it.

'From Bradenham's point of view this is a very big development and the money offered is not the key issue. There are a number of other issues relating to drainage, sewage and access which would not be resolved until after planning is granted.'

Those concerns were raised at a public meeting last month, but Mr Tilley said Anglian Water had advised there was enough capacity to accommodate the extra water and sewage requirements into the current network.

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