Reader letter: More and more green fields will disappear in our villages unless government gets a grip

The wonderful colours of Wildflowers growing beside a field of Oil Seed Rape near Shereford. Photo:

The wonderful colours of Wildflowers growing beside a field of Oil Seed Rape near Shereford. Photo: Martin Sizeland - Credit: Martin Sizeland

Twenty five more dwellings in the settlement of Yaxham have been allowed after an appeal decision on May 14 by the Planning Inspectorate.

Yaxham was the first village in Breckland to have its plan 'made' last year and the community overwhelmingly voted 92pc in favour of Yaxham remaining small and rural.

Despite this, there are now 77 new dwellings with planning permission waiting to be built in a settlement of only 204 homes.

The production of Neighbourhood Plans across the UK takes a considerable amount of public money not only in the initial grant funding to the village groups to undertake all the consultation but then later to the local authorities when the plans are 'made' and come into the local planning framework.

When undertaking the Yaxham Neighbourhood Plan process, we had grants from government and local authority of approximately £13,000 to meet the rigid regulatory requirements.

The local authority itself would then have received £30,000 for its part in enabling each Neighbourhood Plan to be 'made'. If all this time and effort by the community is to be ignored then how is this a sensible cost to the public purse? We can all think of ways in which those funds could be far better spent.

However the whole vision of local democracy brought in by the Localism Act 2011 counts for nothing if the local authority does not have its five year housing land supply.

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Breckland Council at present has 4.6 years and so village Neighbourhood Plans such as Mattishall and Yaxham can be disregarded when developers bring an appeal before a single Planning Inspector.

So developers such as Lanpro and Gladman are able to turn green fields in our rural localities into swathes of housing increasing all the existing infrastructure problems so well documented in this local paper.

So much for local democracy!

Developers are able to sit on land for years without penalty, causing a blight on their potential neighbours for years and until central government gets a proper grip on this situation, more and more green fields will disappear in our rural villages. A depressing vision for the future.

Maggie Oechsle,

NP4Yaxham Chairman, Yaxham.