MP to meet open space campaigners in Dereham
Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman is to meet campaigners who are fighting to save an area of open space in Dereham.
More than 200 people have signed a petition asking Breckland Council to keep the land at Castell Road – on the Highfield Road estate – safe from future development.
It is one of several areas which Breckland is disposing of and is considering a range of options.
Mr Freeman will be meeting residents at the site on Friday, September 30, at 3.45pm and campaign co-ordinator Fred Abrahams is hoping for a good turnout of supporters.
'I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have supported us so far and it is wonderful that George Freeman is getting involved,' he said.
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Mr Freeman said: 'While I don't get involved in individual planning applications, I do take a close interest in the whole question of strategic planning policy.
'I think the government's 'localism' reforms give us a chance to take more control locally over how we plan our towns and villages and how we strike the right balance between heritage, amenity, infrastructure and development.
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'I know that Castell Road has always been considered something of a 'green lung' and the challenge is to find models of development that combine heritage and prosperity. I am looking forward to meeting the residents along with the councillors.'
Meanwhile, the issue of the disposal of land was raised at Breckland's full council meeting by Dereham councillor Robin Goreham.
'I haven't met anyone who actually likes the idea of building on green open spaces,' he said. 'That's not to say active land management is not well thought of or well through out. It's done for a specific reason – to maximise the financial assets of the council.
'We shouldn't lose sight of the fact of who actually owns those assets – it's not just Breckland Council, it's the rate payers of Breckland Council. And there are an awful lot of them.'
Cabinet member Mark Kiddle Morris said: 'We need to be sure where we are going and how we are going to dispose of these pieces of land. We need to get the best value out of these pieces of land that we possibly can. Some of them are very dear to people's hearts, because they have lived opposite them for a number of year, but we have to look at value for the rest of the rate payers of Breckland.'
Dereham councillor Linda Monument said there had been at least one village in favour of proposals for their land because it would be used for affordable housing and villages are in need of affordable housing.
She added: 'In the town it went the other way. You can't make new land and we are very dismayed to see small pieces of land being taken.'