How Dereham is undergoing a green space revolution

Land that's for sale at Etling Green, Dereham.
Byline: Sonya Duncan

The land for sale at Etling Green, Dereham. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Dereham has notoriously poor levels of outdoor public space for a town of its size - but things are changing in the heart of Norfolk. 

July saw work begin on the Ellenor Fenn Garden, which will soon open up to the public on Wright’s Walk. 

The garden will fill a patch of wasteland which has been hidden behind blue hoarding for more than 15 years. 

Jerry Fuller, Mike Webb, Matthew Jervis and Paul Hewett.

From left, Jerry Fuller from Dencora, Mike Webb, aboutDereham, Matthew Jervis, contractor and councillor Paul Hewett from Breckland Council at the site of the future Ellenor Fenn Park. - Credit: Keith Mindham Photography

Mike Webb, chairman of the aboutDereham Partnership who have spearheaded the work, said: "The garden will feature a performance area, a children's wildlife area and grass with seating to support a range of outdoor community events.

"The garden will easily accommodate marquees and market stalls, which will help to boost footfall in the town centre and business for local retailers."

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Ellenor Fenn, who lived in Dereham in the 18th century with her antiquarian husband John Fenn, was a pioneer of the home-schooling movement, and a writer of children’s books. 

On the other side of the town centre, Dereham Town Council (DTC) are currently investigating whether they could utilise an under-used green space at Old Becclesgate.

Green space at Old Becclesgate, which could soon be the site of a key workers' commemoration garden.

The green space at Old Becclesgate which could soon become the site of a garden memorialising the efforts of key workers in Dereham during the pandemic. - Credit: Google

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The idea, first suggested by independent councillor Amy-Jane Brooks, would be to transform it into a garden honouring the sacrifices made by key workers during the pandemic. 

While the exact design of the space, which is currently owned by Breckland District Council, remains to be worked out, DTC hopes it will be centred around a copse of trees, with a small children’s play area or trail of information boards both discussed as potential extras. 

Most excitingly, DTC is also looking to purchase two large fields just north of the town’s Etling View development, which would together serve as a bridge linking the Neatherd Moor with Etling Green. 

Land that's for sale at Etling Green, Dereham.
Byline: Sonya Duncan

The land between the Neatherd Moor and Etling Green, which could soon form part of a new country park. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

If the council are successful in their bid, the connected open spaces could be transformed into a 160-acre country park. 

The ecological opportunities of such a space would be enormous, with scope to create nesting habitats for great crested newts and turtle doves, among other creatures. 

With more open spaces close to the centre of town, residents and shoppers can soon look forward to a greener, more tranquil Dereham. 

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