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Opponents of building on historic site propose restoring Victorian walkway

PUBLISHED: 16:41 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:29 12 June 2019

Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

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A vision to restore a historic avenue of trees as a community 'green promenade' has been outlined for open land next to the site of a controversial housing proposal.

1886 Ordnance Survey Map shows the parkland of the Boundary Belt forming an avenue of trees that encircles the Parish Fields and the Lawn. Picture: Diss Town Council1886 Ordnance Survey Map shows the parkland of the Boundary Belt forming an avenue of trees that encircles the Parish Fields and the Lawn. Picture: Diss Town Council

Parish Fields is one of the last pieces of large open land in the centre of Diss and has a long history with links to one of the most famous families in the town.

The Taylor family were behind both Diss Corn Hall and The Boundary Belt, the planting of an avenue of trees that encircled the Parish Fields and The Lawn which was used by the Taylors to take a Sunday stroll around the meadows to see the local livestock grazing.

Developers Scott Residential have proposed to build 24 retirement bungalows on part of the currently private and undeveloped land between Shelfanger Road and Mount Street.

Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. PHOTO: Sophie SmithDiss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

However the speculative plans have met with strong opposition and the Parish Fields Friends, a group opposing development, has been examining ideas which could improve the area.

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An idea to restore the Boundary Belt at the edge of the open space is among proposals they will present to a meeting of Diss Town Council on June 12.

Protesters have raised concerns proposals for retirement bungalows on Parish Fields in Diss fail to take into account its history and significance as a green space. Picture: GoogleProtesters have raised concerns proposals for retirement bungalows on Parish Fields in Diss fail to take into account its history and significance as a green space. Picture: Google

They suggest creating a 'green promenade' around the south and west sides of the Parish Fields on land owned by Diss Town Council and South Norfolk Council including restoring some of the original trees, adding new ones and enhancing wildlife and flora.

Other ideas include opening it up to the wider public with new benches and information boards to explain its history. There is currently no public access to the land, which is listed in the South Norfolk Local Plan as an important local open space.

David Whatley, a member of Parish Fields Friends, said: "There is a fabulous opportunity. The Lawn represents a fragment of a bygone age and it is still there, still being grazed by cows. It is a result of good stewardship by the Taylor family generations back in Victorian times and the farming family of Gaze."

Outline proposals would see 24 retirement bungalows built on just under half of Parish Fields in Diss. Picture: Scott ResidentialOutline proposals would see 24 retirement bungalows built on just under half of Parish Fields in Diss. Picture: Scott Residential

The presentation to be given states: "The late 18th century and early 19th century parkland of the Boundary Belt has fallen away in the town's memory and valuation. So we want to help change that - by restoring its trees and history.

"We hope with a little bit of education and shared activities we can raise the community and council's awareness so it is value once again as an important part of Diss's green heritage."



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