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Fresh bid for Aylsham Watermill green space

12:00 18 January 2013

The grade two listed Aylsham Watermill. Picture: Colin Finch.

The grade two listed Aylsham Watermill. Picture: Colin Finch.

A second bid has been made to turn a green area in front of a picturesque town mill into public open space.

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Aylsham Town Council has put in an application to Broadland District Council for planning permission to change the use of the land at Mill Row, near Aylsham Watermill, for recreational activities.

But one of the mill owners, Martine Spalding, who bought the building in 2004 with her husband John, said the proposal could put the site’s restoration in jeopardy.

The small green area has been the subject of a long-running saga between the town council and the mill owners over how it should be used.

Mr and Mrs Spalding said they put up six-foot high metal fencing around the land in May 2004 for health and safety reasons and because it was the only place to store materials.

Mrs Spalding said: “I’m really disappointed the town council has put in the application. The mill is more important to me than anything else. It is part of Aylsham’s history and its future is being put in jeopardy.”

She added that thousands of pounds had been spent on renovating half the building, where she lives, as well as fighting the town council’s previous planning application for town green status, which failed at a public inquiry in 2009.

The planning inspector said Mr and Mrs Spalding did not own the fenced-off land and the application failed because of a period of significant interruption in 1998 when work was being carried out on the mill by a previous owner.

Mo Anderson-Dungar, Aylsham town clerk, said: “The town council took it on in 2004. Broadland doesn’t want to see the mill fall into disrepair. It has always been the town council’s intention to secure the land.”

She said it was not known who owned the green area but before it was fenced off it was used and maintained by Aylsham residents for many decades for activities, including launching canoes into the River Bure, paddling and feeding the ducks.

David Harrison, a town, Broadland district and county councillor, said the application would establish a use for the land which had become “derelict”.

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