Dispute over Dereham footpath fence

District councillor Alison Webb is unhappy about the fence Orbit Homes has erected on Cherry Lane, D

District councillor Alison Webb is unhappy about the fence Orbit Homes has erected on Cherry Lane, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

It is a well used footpath, particularly popular with dog walkers, but people who have enjoyed a stroll along Cherry Lane in Dereham say their recreation has been ruined by fencing that has been erected by a developer.

District councillor Alison Webb is unhappy about the fence Orbit Homes has erected on Cherry Lane, D

District councillor Alison Webb is unhappy about the fence Orbit Homes has erected on Cherry Lane, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Orbit Homes, who bought the land off Cherry Lane and Greenfields Road and have outline planning permission to build 220 homes, erected the metal fencing down each side of the path, a public right of way. It is currently carrying out soil testing on the site.

But in places it reduces the width to as little as two metres which leaves walkers feeling uncomfortable when passing people coming the other way.

And despite repeated calls for them to move the fence back to give a wider path they have refused to do so.

Now the town council is stepping in and at a meeting on Tuesday decided to write a strongly-worded letter to the developer.

District councillor Alison Webb said people were very unhappy about it.

'As soon as they put the fence up I was getting complaints because of how narrow it has made the path,' she said.

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'Lots of walkers feel very vulnerable down there - not because the fence stops people going on the path but because if someone is coming the other way it is difficult to pass.

'Orbit hasn't any broken any rules but you would think in the circumstances they would want to keep people on their side but they have refused to do anything which is a great shame.

'It could be easily resolved and its a shame that they can't just put it nearer the hedge and everyone would be happy.'

A spokesman for Orbit Homes said the fence was erected to protect users and there was no obstruction to the path.

Planning manager Ellie Smith said: 'The Heras-type fencing we have used is see-through and not ply boarded hoardings, which ensures visibility of the pathway.

'The health and safety of residents is of the utmost importance to us, and this is always the case where we have live development sites.

'This is the reason that fencing between Cherry Lane and Hall Lane has been put up – to protect passers-by from any potential hazards. This is part of our legal obligations as a developer.

'Appreciating the pathway is widely used, we will retain it as part of the planned development.'

Do you feel the fencing has made the path too narrow? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.

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