Compromise agreed over long-running Aylsham Water Mill saga

Owner Jon Spalding at Aylsham Water Mill. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Owner Jon Spalding at Aylsham Water Mill. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A long-running dispute over the use of land next to Aylsham Water Mill could soon be over after a compromise was agreed.

An extraordinary meeting was held in the town on Monday, July 3 to discuss the latest twist in the saga.

It ended with mill owner Jon Spalding agreeing to negotiate with the town council and two residents over the public use of an access path to the River Bure on the land, measuring about 1metre wide.

He had previously insisted the land came with the mill when he bought it in 2004, and opposed its use by the public.

The council has been eager to give people a chance to access the river and clerk Sue Lake said the authority was hopeful that an agreement could be reached ahead of its full council meeting on July 13.

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She said: 'At present there is limited access to the river from Mill Row.'

Mr Spalding, who is carrying out renovation work to the mill, did not wish to comment on the saga but confirmed that he was prepared to negotiate.

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However, resident Judi Meredith, who is opposed to the council's plans, said the access path would be a 'waste of taxpayers' money'.

She said: 'I think it's ludicrous to have an access path - very few people know about it, and hardly anyone goes up there. When you get to the end of the path there's just a view and then you come back.'

Fellow resident David Warren, however, said it seemed a 'sensible compromise' to allow visual access to the river, and allow Mr Spalding to complete his renovation work, at the same time.

Broadland District councillor for Aylsham, David Harrison said it was 'good news' that negotiations were about to take place to end the saga.

For more than a decade the water mill has been at the centre of a battle between its owner and the town council over its use – with the argument divided between public access to the river and private ownership.

The saga appeared to be over in September 2015 when Broadland District Council turned down a request to obtain the land without permission.

The compulsory purchase order had been requested by the town council, which wanted the access path, and was doubtful over the land's ownership.

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