“An attack on my personal life” - the owner of an historic Aylsham mill slams the town council
08:00 20 March 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
The owner of an historic mill in Aylsham says he feels “harassed” by the town council.
The claims are the latest development in a long-running saga over the Mill Row building, bought by Jon Spalding in 2004.
Last week Aylsham town councillors voted to appeal a Broadland District Council decision to refuse to class a section of land outside the mill as recreation ground.
Aylsham Town Council had called for the plot to be available for public access to the river, while Mr Spalding said the land was private and belonged to the mill.
It has been fenced off and Mr Spalding, 49, said development work to the deteriorating mill had been suspended while the town council continued with the appeal.
He said: “This is harassment on a grand scale and an attack on my personal life and what I want to do.
“I have suffered enough. It has cost me a fortune.”
The property developer said he bought the mill for £720,000 and it would cost the same again to finish renovations.
Mr Spalding, who lives in Taverham, said: “With a public open space in front of that building, I am potentially not able to make any money - I am not going to invest if I cannot recover it.”
Ownership of the land outside the mill has been a sensitive issue.
Mr Spalding said: “I do own it - I have statements from the previous mill owner to say what the land was for.
He said his ownership document provided concrete evidence that the land was his.
He said: “It was a working mill up until 1967. What has been passed on is exactly the same because I have the title deeds.”
After the council’s application for village green classification was turned down, a planning application for recreational use was submitted to Broadland.
This was refused because the area of land was seen as inappropriate for use as a public open space. But at last week’s town council meeting, nine councillors voted to appeal this decision.
David Harrison, town, district and county councillor, said ownership was not relevant to the planning decision.
He said: “We are not wrong. We are right. A public right of way exists down to that river.
“The game is not over. It is a public amenity and it should not be fenced off.”
Councillor Liz Jones, said there had been a shift in public opinion. She said local residents wanted the mill restored but that the council was seen as preventing this.
The mill saga has so far cost Aylsham Town Council more than £7,000.