‘Our legacy for the future’ - Council’s enthusiasm for country park plan

Norfolk Wildlife Trust conservation officer Helen Baczkowska

Norfolk Wildlife Trust conservation officer Helen Baczkowska said there were several ecological opportunities afforded by such a large chunk of land. - Credit: Simon Parker

A Norfolk council took another step this week towards securing the final piece of a ‘jigsaw’ of land needed to create a brand new, 160-acre country park.

Following the news that Dereham Town Council is considering purchasing two fields to link the Neatherd Moor with Etling Green, councillors met on Tuesday for a pair of back-to-back extraordinary meetings of the recreation and finance committees. 

Helen Baczkowska, a conservation officer at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, spoke at the first meeting, saying there were big ecological opportunities if the two green spaces were bridged.

“We’re increasingly aware that things like great crested newts actually travel through the landscape - they don’t just stay loyal in one pond,” said Ms Baczkowska.

“There’s also things like turtle doves, that have really disappeared from the landscape at an alarming rate and we know that some of that is about a lack of nesting habitats - they need dense thorny scrub, so that’s something to look at creating,” she added.

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

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


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Councillor Phillip Duigan said: “We’ve got to look at this not just for the next 20 years, but the next 250 years. This is our legacy for the future.”

He added: “I’d always be willing for even more land if we can get it. I think this is a continuation, perhaps not the culmination.”

Aerial view of two fields Dereham Town Council is considering purchasing

An aerial view of the two fields the council is considering purchasing - marked with two icons in the centre of the image. The land lies just north of the town's Etling View housing development. - Credit: Google

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Mayor Stuart Green agreed, saying: “If we don’t buy it, someone else probably could, and they could do whatever they want with it - make houses or whatever else, and once those are built, you’re never going to get it back.” 

Dereham Town council members, from left, deputy Mayor, Hugh King; Linda Monument; Mayor Stuart Green

Dereham Town councillors, from left: deputy Mayor, Hugh King; Linda Monument; Mayor Stuart Green; and Phillip Duigan. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Councillor Linda Monument cautioned however that restoring the land to how it would have appeared in 1900, made up of small fields surrounded by hedges, could encourage anti-social behaviour.

“Small fields in private hands may be fine, but hedged, small areas, on a piece of land that big, could create places where mischief could be done, harm could be done - we would have to look very carefully at the design but the idea of buying it does appeal to me,” she said. 

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

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

Councillors agreed to hold an extraordinary full council meeting on Tuesday next week to make a decision on whether to try to acquire the land. 

An online consultation on the proposal has so far received 570 responses, and is open until 4pm on July 6: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3JSNK26 

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