Aylsham mill row is over
A row spanning more than a decade over a patch of land next to a historic watermill is now over.
Aylsham Water Mill, at Mill Row, has been at the centre of a battle between its owners and the town council over its use – with the argument divided between public access to the River Bure and private ownership.
After a public inquiry and years of negotiations, yesterday Broadland District Council turned down a request to obtain the land without permission.
The compulsory purchase order (CPO) had been requested by Aylsham Town Council, which was eager to give local people a chance to access the water and doubtful over the ownership of the land.
But the mill owner, self-employed engineer Jon Spalding, 51, from Taverham, insisted the land came with the mill when he bought it in 2004.
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He said: 'This has been going on for 11 years since I bought the mill. This has been harassment from the town council. They purported to work for the community, but they have not.'
Now the land, which was fenced off, remains with Mr Spalding, he says he plans to push forward with the renovation plans and hopes to build three town houses there.
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'If the CPO had gone ahead I couldn't have renovated the mill,' he added. 'Now the jewel in the Aylsham crown will be restored.'
It is reported to have cost the town council up to £20,000 to fight the battle.
At the Broadland cabinet meeting, most councillors agreed a CPO should not be used. Councillor Shaun Vincent, of Crostwick Lane, Spixworth, said: 'It seems a waste of time and we should stop the land grab activity and refuse this application.'
Aylsham Town Council chairman Mathew Martin said he now hoped the mill would be fully restored and would welcome a meeting with Mr Spalding.