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Fears of ‘over-development’ in Dereham as Hopkins Homes plan resurfaces

PUBLISHED: 06:01 09 January 2014

Robin Goreham

Robin Goreham

Archant

Concerns of over-development in Dereham have come to the fore again after a dormant proposal for 255 houses on the outskirts of the town resurfaced.

Hopkins Homes’ plans for a housing estate off Dumpling Green, along the Yaxham Road, were shelved three years ago while the developer addressed issues relating to sewage and drainage.

Those issues have now been resolved and updated proposals have been lodged with Breckland Council.

The planning authority has relaunched its consultation, sparking fresh concerns including the ability of Dereham’s high schools to expand to cope with the new residents, the potential impact of the development on the surrounding area and the increased traffic.

Hopkins Homes officials, however, have said the development will help the district meet its housing shortfall and funds would be provided if there was a lack of capacity at the schools.

Tony Needham, Dereham Town Council clerk, said: “From the reports, it looks as though the sewage issue has been resolved with Anglian Water.

“The ability of the schools to expand, however, has not been addressed. The high schools do not have capacity to expand nor is it easy to establish a new high school.”

Mr Needham said figures put forward by Hopkins Homes, which state that school rolls were falling, were “inaccurate” and that although school admissions continually fluctuate, Dereham should expect an increase as the population of 11 to 15-year-olds in Norfolk is expected to continually rise between now and 2021.

The town council also expressed concern about the impact the extra cars could have on the town, especially in light of the McDonald’s development which has already been given the go-ahead near the Yaxham Road roundabout.

Town councillor Robin Goreham said: “Dumpling Green is presently a lovely tranquil haven not just for a few home dwellers but for a generous amount of wildlife.

“The introduction of over 200 houses would fundamentally damage the equilibrium of the area, ruin the habitat for wildlife and fundamentally over-populate this part of the town.

“Whilst there is a short-term housing supply problem, the overall supply is running according to the long-term plan.

“Nothing has been presented to suggest that the housing supply in Dereham is below what is planned and, if this development goes ahead, it will increase the planned housing in Dereham by an additional 40pc of what was originally envisaged and would result in an unsustainable development of the town.”

Under the plans, the development, which would cover about 17.2 hectares (42.5 acres), would include 102 affordable homes and 4.37 hectares of open space to be used by joggers, families and other local people.

Since the proposals were first put forward in 2010, the developers have resolved strategic drainage issues and now plan to use the Mattishall system, rather than the one in Dereham – a solution which has been helped by the Taylor Wimpey scheme near the football club.

There has also been the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which says councils can look at sites which were not allocated for housing to help them meet their five-year land supply requirement. Breckland currently has 2.8 years of supply.

Other changes include some “tinkering” with the road layout, although the main access point is still planned to be from Yaxham Road.

A Hopkins Homes spokesman said: “The recent amendments to the drawings reflect changes in the foul drainage strategy, which result from further consultation with Anglian Water. This will ensure that the local drainage network will not be adversely affected by the proposals.

“With regard to the capacity of the schools, it is for the county council to advise on this matter, however should there be any shortfall of places then it would be necessary for the developer to provide funds to address this.

“All highway and transport matters will be considered by county highways to ensure that the proposals are acceptable. Breckland has a shortfall in housing land supply which is assessed on a district-wide basis and as such we feel that this site would help to deliver the much needed homes for the district.”

The plans will go before Breckland’s planning committee in due course.

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