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Watton to revisit neighbourhood plan after offer of help from MP

Babes in the wood....Watton's town sign on the High street.
Photographer: Graham Corney
Copy:  Ian Clarke
© EDP pics 2004 Tel: 01603 772434
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Babes in the wood....Watton's town sign on the High street. Photographer: Graham Corney Copy: Ian Clarke © EDP pics 2004 Tel: 01603 772434 Contact:

Archant

A town burdened by new housing developments in recent years is revisiting the idea of creating a neighbourhood plan.

A round table meeting was held at Downham Market Town Hall to discuss the future of the Ely North Railway Junction with Network rail - MP George Freeman. Picture: Matthew Usher. A round table meeting was held at Downham Market Town Hall to discuss the future of the Ely North Railway Junction with Network rail - MP George Freeman. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Councillors in Watton first explored the possibility of putting together a plan, which would allow the town to influence where new developments are built in its boundaries, last year after a lively public meeting on the subject of housing.

Now, after an invitation from MP George Freeman to discuss a neighbourhood plan with him, the town council is considering resurrecting the idea.

One reason the neighbourhood plan was initially abandoned was to see what changes would be proposed in Watton in Breckland Council’s Local Plan, the draft of which has just finished its last public consultation.

However with some dissatisfaction over the results – despite the fact the town may have no more new homes allocated before 2031 – town councillors agreed at a meeting on Tuesday night to take up Mr Freeman’s offer of a meeting.

There was some consternation towards the MP, who Peter Bishop said had done “nothing” since attending the public meeting in Queen’s Hall last March.

“He came and pontificated about all the things he was going to do. He has promised so much for this town and has done nothing.”

However new councillor Gavin Bulmer said: “If our MP is willing to put some time aside to talk to use and listen to us, we should do our bit as councillors and make time for him. I would like to see what it is he can do for us.”

Mr Freeman, who has helped Dereham to formulate a town plan, said the lack of such documents is “making it far too easy for developers to build wherever they want without the necessary infrastructure”.

He added: “We see all around us the resulting pressure on local health and other services and roads and drainage.”

Watton Town Council agreed to arrange a meeting with Mr Freeman, which will take place in the new year.

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