Decisions on 500 homes delayed as questions remain unanswered

Breckland councillor Alison Webb.

Breckland councillor Alison Webb. - Credit: Archant

Unanswered questions about solving Dereham's traffic problems have prompted councillors to delay decisions over plans to bring more than 500 homes to the town.

Breckland Council's planning committee was due to decide on Monday whether to grant planning permission for Glavenhill Strategic Land to build 291 homes on land off Shipdham Road, Westfield Road and Westfield Lane in Toftwood as well as Avant Homes' bid to build 216 homes on land off Swanton Road.

The Glavenhiil application was deferred before the meeting began.

After an hour-long debate on Avant Homes' proposals, councillors decided they could not vote on the scheme until more clarity is provided over mitigation measures proposed to tackle traffic gridlock in Dereham.

Members of the planning committee were told by Sarah Simpson, from Create Consulting, who is working with Dereham Town Council, that a transport study of Dereham, commissioned by Breckland Council, was 'inadequate.'

Councillors Alison Webb, Phillip Duigan and William Richmond and Dereham town clerk Tony Needham highlighted what they saw as flaws in the study, which they believe lacked detail and did not take into account key areas of the town or weekend traffic.

Mr Needham explained how Dereham Town Council is spending £61,000 on its own transport study.

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Nobody from Norfolk County Council's highways department was able to attend this part of the meeting and answer technical questions about proposed traffic mitigation measures.

Councillors voted to defer a decision until questions can be answered.

Speaking after the meeting Mrs Webb, who is strongly opposed to the plans, said: 'I think this is the best result we could have realistically hoped for at this stage.

'Clearly we need more clarity on the traffic and highways issues before anyone can make such important decisions.'

The Glavenhill application had attracted 172 letters of objection from members of the public while 26 letters of objection had been sent to Breckland Council over the Avant Homes' proposals.

Both applications had been recommended for approval by the council's case officer Matt Ellis.