“It has been 10 long years” - Decision made over land outside historic Aylsham watermill
Community leaders are celebrating a planning victory after calling for riverside land outside a historic mill to be made available for public use.
Aylsham Town Council had applied for permission to make the disputed land, outside the building on Mill Row, available for recreational use.
Broadland District Council refused the application, but the town council appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which overturned Broadland's decision this week.
But mill owner John Spalding said he was disappointed with the news, and claimed the town council had wasted taxpayers' money in fighting the decision.
He said it was a shame that a listed building was sitting next to the land but, as a result of the decision, he would now be unable to do anything with it.
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Mr Spalding, who bought the building 10 years ago, had planned to build a car park on the 0.2 hectare area for the mill, which has been partially converted into flats.
After hearing the news, David Harrison, Norfolk County Council deputy leader and Aylsham town councillor, said he was elated the river would be open for others to enjoy.
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'It has been 10 long years,' he said. 'I remember walking down there with my dog to feed the swans. It had been used since I was a child.'
Planning inspector David Spencer reported that evidence persuaded him the town council was committed to delivering an informal open site.
He said: 'The site would also provide a rare opportunity for people to safely view the River Bure in Aylsham.'
He recognised that this planning consent would enable 'delivery mechanisms' such as a Compulsory Purchase Order to be progressed.
A previous bid to get the site designated a village green failed at an inquiry in 2009, because of a technicality over the length of proven public usage.
Annette Overton, vice-chairman of the town council, said the outcome of the appeal was a good decision for the local community.
Mr Harrison added that it was one step on the road to acquiring a Compulsory Purchase Order for the land, which has been at the centre of long-running ownership disputes.
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