Campaigners await 100 homes appeal hearing verdict
- Credit: Ian Burt
Campaigners fighting plans to build 100 homes on the edge of a Norfolk market town face a nervous wait over an appeal verdict.
Planning inspector Anne Jordan has heard arguments for and against proposals to build the properties on land behind Dereham's Rash's Green Industrial Estate, with Westfield Road, Toftwood to the western boundary.
Trustees of the GR Scott Will Trust have appealed against the decision of Breckland Council's planning committee to refuse planning permission for the scheme.
The decision went against the council planning officer's recommendation.
An appeal hearing was held at Toftwood Social Club on Wednesday and Thursday and Ms Jordan has also undertaken a site visit.
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It is expected to take at least six weeks before a verdict is reached.
The heart of the debate centres around the site's designation as employment land, which was a reason given for councillors' refusal.
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There are also concerns around potential road safety and increased traffic on Dereham's already over congested roads.
The applicant contends that the 3.6 hectare site would not be marketable in its current condition for employment use as there is no direct access off Rash's Green and it is unserviced and too close to existing housing.
In its lengthy list of objections Dereham Town Council states that there is not enough evidence to prove sustainability for housing in terms of employment opportunities.
The council argues that there is an increasing unemployment rate in Dereham, insufficient employment opportunities in the town and states that the site should be retained as employment land.
This argument is backed by the campaign group Toftwood Life Community, which has been fighting the housing plans.
Group spokesman Kirsty Heath said: 'I am feeling positive that we will win this.
'I think the fact there has been no marketing for that site as employment land, for 25 years, and that a business has expressed an interest in it, surely goes in our favour.
'We are expecting a decision in about six weeks so we will just have to wait now to see what happens.'
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