Long-running Aylsham Watermill land dispute to continue
- Credit: Archant
A nine-year row over a the use of a green area in front of a former town mill looks set to continue after a planning decision was deferred for six months.
Earlier this year Aylsham Town Council put in an application to Broadland District Council for planning permission to change the use of the land at Mill Row, near Aylsham Watermill, for recreational activities.
But one of the mill owners, Martine Spalding, who bought the building in 2004 with her husband Jon, said the proposal could put the site's restoration in jeopardy.
Mrs Spalding said: 'The land is essential to the mill. For the sake of that mill it needs restoration but it is being blighted by the town council for nine years. If the land was open to the public it would be a nightmare.'
The owners put up six-foot high metal fencing around the land in May 2004 for health and safety reasons and because it was the only place to store materials. It has stayed up until last weekend when it was 'temporarily removed' so the area could be cleared to help with the sale of a house near the grade II listed mill, according to Mrs Spalding.
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Residents from the Mill Row area helped clear the green of brambles and saplings one of the participants, Susan Nicholls, said the grass would be mown imminently.
She now believed the land was now public, something Mrs Spalding disputes.
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Ms Nicholls said the area was an 'eyesore' before the clear up and people in the town were delighted the work had been done.
She added a win-win situation could be reached for both the town counil and the mill owners and it was important the owners retained access to the historic building.
Members of the Broadland District Council planning committee decided on Wednesday to defer a decision on the town council application because they wanted both parties to resolve the issues regarding the land usage and more formal plans about its proposed use.
Town clerk Mo Anderson-Dungar said earlier discussions with Mrs Spalding had 'faulted' after members decided not to go ahead with an agreement to split the land in half for the mill owners and the council. That decision was made in private on July 11 during a full council meeting.
Mrs Anderson-Dungar said: 'The town council has always believed it has acted in the interests of Aylsham. It needs to be resolved and we will take things forward. Local people have used the land for generations. It is a small piece of land but it is important for the town.'
But Mrs Spalding said: 'We were prepared to negotiate for the future of the mill. The town council need to step back.'