Housing developers looking at sites on the outskirts of Dereham

New Dereham Mayor Tim Birt. Picture: Matthew Usher.

New Dereham Mayor Tim Birt. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A market town is facing the possibility of more than 500 homes being built on its outskirts.

Two housing developers are looking at the opportunity to build new estates on the edge of Dereham.

Hopkins Homes has already applied to build 255 homes on land off Dumpling Green while Cirrus Strategic Land, through agent Lanpro, is considering a 300-home development on land to the south-east of Toftwood.

The Dumpling Green scheme went before Breckland Council's planning committee last year but a decision was deferred while additional information was gathered. At the time council officers had recommended approving the plan but this could change dependent on the results of studies.

Hopkins Homes claims the site is in a 'highly sustainable' location within a mile of key facilities.

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In its planning statement the developer said: 'The proposals would provide an appropriate mix of dwelling types, sizes and tenures, including a significant proportion of much needed affordable housing, which would contribute to the creation of a sustainable, mixed community.'

Lanpro has prepared an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping report to judge if an EIA will be required as part of any application.

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In the report it states 'the proposals also include the development of a new public park, a series of open and equipped play spaces, a full size football pitch to meet Dereham-wide deficiencies and new footpath and cycle routes.'

Dereham mayor Tim Birt has warned there is already a deficit of jobs and while the final applications have not yet been submitted he fears that any large scale developments would be better suited to the north of the town.

He said: 'We have huge infrastructure problems in Dereham which we have highlighted but there is no seeing how things are going to be addressed. 'Overall in the town we do need more housing but I would like to see it in the north of the town where the buses and facilities are.

'There is a deficit in jobs in the town. In the LDF (Local Development Framework) we got the houses but didn't get the jobs. We are seeing a few coming through but it is not enough and Dereham is getting less and less sustainable.'

Mr Birt has also warned the closure of the US air base at Mildenhall could have a knock on effect on the town with the possibility of fewer jobs and a change in Breckland's housing market.

Meanwhile, opposition to the Toftwood proposals has flooded in from members of the public, neighbouring parish councils and relevant organisations.

Whinburgh and Westfield Parish Council has raised concerns about transport and access issues, the potential burden on the area's facilities including schools, doctors' surgeries and the impact on the natural environment.

The Mid Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust has raised concerns about traffic issues and both the Norfolk area Ramblers Association and the Open Spaces Society have expressed fears over public right of way.

In a letter, Phillip Dentten, of Shipdham Road, says: 'Serious consideration must be given to the impact on local schools, doctors/dentists surgeries (all bursting at the seams), traffic and the environmental impact on and to the River Tud.'

Bob Baxter, of Boyd Avenue, writes: 'Three hundred dwellings could mean an extra 1,000 or more people using our already congested roads for their journeys to their places of employment, schools and shops.

'Doctors and dentists surgeries are at bursting point now and schools are already full so children would have to travel further for their education.'

Do you think Dereham could sustain a further 500 homes? Write to doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk

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