Almost 200 new homes will be built next to Wayland Woods - the setting for Babes in the Wood

Watton Town focus.Wayland Wood.

Watton Town focus.Wayland Wood. - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

It is an ancient woodland in which literary history is deeply rooted as the fabled setting for the Babes in the Wood tale.

Residents in Watton are concerned for the future of Wayland Wood. Pictured is Claire Scutt. Picture:

Residents in Watton are concerned for the future of Wayland Wood. Pictured is Claire Scutt. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

But Wayland Wood is now the scene of a rather more modern drama, after a controversial proposal to build 180 homes next to the site was finally given the go-ahead.

The result is far from a fairytale ending for campaigners who had long resisted the plans and will now see the properties built at the site, off Thetford Road, Watton.

The scheme had initially been rejected, but Gladman Develop-ments appealed the decision, with a hearing held last month.

Approving the application, planning inspector John Gray said the new homes would give a 'much more sensitive transition from countryside to town'.

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He believed the impact of 'increased recreational use' of Wayland Wood would not be great enough to justify rejecting the plan, adding that its importance within the landscape would not be diminished.

Keith Gilbert, Watton town and Breckland district councillor, who was among those who spoke out against the application at the appeal hearing, described the decision as 'absolutely disgraceful'.

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'I honestly thought that we had put up such a strong case for not developing on that particular site to have won the day,' he said.

In a statement, housing pressure group What Watton Wants said the planning process did not seem to have listened to 'local problems'.

'We are extremely appalled and disappointed by the planning inspectorate's decision,' it said.

Jo Jacklin, of What Watton Wants, said it was a 'sad day' for the town.

'People are not happy about it, they are asking when the development here is going to stop,' she said.

Outline planning permission for the development was subject to 20 suggested conditions and to Gladman agreeing to provide affordable housing, public open space and contributions to local outdoor sports provision, education and libraries.

Gladman Developments declined to comment.

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