Controversial housing bid on edge of Dereham is refused - because of a railway bridge

Westfield Lane in Toftwood near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Westfield Lane in Toftwood near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A single carriageway road bridge over a heritage railway line proved to be a bridge too far for an application for 291 houses in Dereham which was refused by planners.

The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt

The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

After two hours of debate Breckland's planning committee was tied with a vote of five in favour and five against the proposal by Glavenhill Stategic Land for the homes on land off Shipdham Road, Westfield Road and Westfield Lane.

Chairman Nigel Wilkin again had to use his casting vote and decided that accessing the development via a C-road and the bridge on Westfield Lane was potentially problematic and refused the application on highways grounds.

The committee heard that the developer proposed to signalise the bridge to ensure traffic only went one way at a time.

A highways officer from Norfolk County Council said they had measured a queueing distance of eight vehicles from the bridge to Yaxham Road and they did not anticipate that traffic would be held up on Yaxham Road.

Westfield Lane in Toftwood near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Westfield Lane in Toftwood near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher


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Mr Wilkin said although the site had been designated as acceptable for development in its emerging Local Plan, he did not want to put more pressure on Dereham's road network.

'I am minded of the situation we have in Attleborough where we pushed for development and put stress on the road network,' he said. 'I don't feel happy that we should come to that in Dereham. I have grave concerns and more work needs to be done. I disagree that this C-class road is being used to access the development.'

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Speaking against the development were Tony Needham on behalf of Dereham Town Council, Peter Lowings for Yaxham Parish Council, Ian Martin for NP4Yaxham, Val Baker for Toftwood Life Community and Paul Claussen as district councillor for Yaxham.

Mr Needham asked for a deferrment for more traffic information to be gathered, particularly the impact the additional housing would have on the dangerous A47 junctions at Fen Road and Draytonhall Lane.

Those representing Yaxham said they wanted their village to be distinct from Dereham.

Mr Claussen said: 'It's a numbers game. If you did painting by numbers who would go to an art gallery? This is planning by numbers but we want infrastructure before we get this scale of development.'

After the vote there was palpable relief from the 60 to 70 members of the public who filled the committee room to hear the verdict.

Kirsty Heath, member of Toftwood Life Community, said she was relieved and delighted.

'We are so pleased that the chairman brought up the issue of the bridge,' she said.

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