Developer Persimmon homes in wrangle over Diss road closures

A developer's contractor has been accused of advertising unauthorised road closures on three busy roads in a Norfolk town after Norfolk County Council bosses said it failed to seek permission.

Barconn Ltd, which is working on behalf of Persimmon Homes, placed signs warning that Frenze Hall Lane, Sandy Lane and Walcot Road in Diss would be closed from this Monday until December 23 for road widening and drainage services to be installed as part of a new 120-home development.

But county council spokesman John Birchall said the council's highways department, which approves road closures, had not received an application from the contractor to close the roads and no prior consultations had taken place.

He said the county council had since spoken to the developer, which had given assurances the signs would be removed and the roads would not be closed.

However, Andrew Fuller, managing director for Persimmon Homes Anglia, insisted the council had been told about Monday's start date, which the contractor was still working towards.

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And a Persimmon spokesman said the road could yet be closed on Monday and the developer was working with the council to find the relevant application. Traffic coming into Diss from the east uses Frenze Hall Lane as a shortcut to avoid congestion on the busy Victoria Road.

But Jenna Cox, marketing officer for the Diss Business Forum, said closing the road in the run-up to Christmas would be devastating for traders in the town, especially as they were already having to deal with the effects of the recession.

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She was particularly concerned for businesses on the Vinces Road industrial estate, as closing Frenze Hall Lane would make it difficult for their staff to get into work, as they already had to contend with Victoria Road, which was particularly busy in the morning.

She said: 'It will make it extremely difficult for businesses in that area. It will make it extremely difficult for employees to get in and will make an impossible situation even worse. They do not seem to have taken into consideration the thoughts and feelings of businesses and residents in that area.'

Town clerk Deborah Sarson said: 'The Town Council is keen to see more road widening works completed on this important development. We understand that the necessary agreements are not in place, that the road will not be closed and that a closure of this duration will be unnecessary anyway.'

However, Mr Fuller said: 'As part of the delivery of our brand new development off Frenze Hall Lane we are required by the local authority to significantly improve a number of the roads surrounding our site.'

He said diversions would be set up to alleviate traffic problems and the new infrastructure provided by the development would benefit the entire community.

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