Campaigners highlight concerns for Toftwood and Dereham after housing scheme submitted

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

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

Campaigners fighting a proposed development on green fields on the edge of Dereham say their worst fears have been realised after a developer submitted an outline scheme for at least 291 homes.

The plans, which have been submitted to Breckland planners by consultants Lanpro, put forward a development of 102 acres of land between Shipdham Road and Yaxham Road along the southern edge of Toftwood.

Lanpro promote it as an 'exemplar ecologically led' housing scheme which provides much needed new homes to address the lack of a five year housing supply, while offering open space and recreation facilities.

But Kirsty Heath, spokesman for campaign group Toftwood Life Community, said there was a great deal of concern over the amount of housing, loss of green field land and lack of infrastructure.

'Where are the people for these homes going to work?' she said. 'The schools are full and the doctors are not taking on any more patients.'

A design and access statement which accompanies the application states that the layout is intented to gradually blend from urban to rural landscape with a green buffer at its southern edge and it breaks up the housing with 'linear parks' to prevent it becoming one continuous developed space.

In a bid to connect people with nature and reduce the impact of the loss of green fields the proposal provides green open spaces, play areas, a sports pitch, paths for dog walking and cycle routes.

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The statement adds: 'The aim is to provide a high quality residential enviroment that minimises environmental impact and creates a series of neighbourhoods that is attractive to live in.'

A major access road is also proposed to run between Shipdham Road and Yaxham Road to bypass and ease congestion at the busy Tavern Lane and Yaxham Road junction.

In a planning statement Lanpro offers a contribution towards health care provision and to increase capacity of Toftwood Infant School, Toftwood Junior School and Dereham Sixth Form College.

It adds: 'The proposals have been carefully designed to provide an exceptional and exemplar ecologically led housing scheme. This scheme will not only provide much needed housing for Dereham and the district of Breckland but also high quality open and recreation spaces which will benefit the existing residents of Toftwood and the town.'

But Mrs Heath said it didn't matter how much money was thrown at the doctors surgery because the problem was recruitment of GPs rather than lack of funds.

'It is frustrating that they think money is always the answer,' she said. 'I am a parent governor at Toftwood Junior School as we just don't have the space to expand because of the limitations of the site. You would also have to take away play areas from the children to build new classrooms.' She is urging people to register any objections to this application with Breckland Council before February 1.

* Toftwood Life Community is planning a public meeting for people to air their concerns on Monday, January 18 at Toftwood Junior School, starting at 7.30pm.