‘Land that time forgot’: mystery over ownership of clogged pond

Responsibility for the overgrown balancing pond, pictured, is unclear. Picture: Noah Vickers

Responsibility for the overgrown balancing pond, pictured, is unclear. Picture: Noah Vickers - Credit: Archant

Residents are demanding to know who is responsible for a pond on the edge of Dereham, which has become clogged with debris.

It is feared by some that the heavily-littered lagoon, which lies just off the A47 slip road onto South Green, could be contributing to the town’s drainage problems.

Debbie and Preston Gilding have lived in Toftwood for 30 years, and said that the area containing the pond had been neglected for a very long time.

“This used to be a big grassy area - no brambles.” said Mrs Gilding. “It was a spot where the ducks would come out and we’d bring the kids to feed them. It used to be ever so pretty.”

“I can’t remember the last time any of these ditches [leading into the pond] were cleared of anything.” said Mr Gilding. “If you get heavy rain for several hours, it can’t cope.”

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At a recent Dereham Town Council meeting, councillor Harry Clarke said: “If you go down there, it’s like the land that time forgot. If anyone hasn’t been there recently, take care, because it’s an absolute jungle. There’s hardly anything moving there, just algae. It really needs a huge going-over.”

Town clerk Tony Needham said he believed the pond was the responsibility of either Highways England or Norfolk County Council.

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A spokesman for Highways England said: “The balancing pond at South Green is on unregistered land and was initially built by the local authority. Ownership has been discussed previously with the local authority and Anglian Water. But I can confirm this is not owned by Highways England.”

Asked whether maintaining the pond could still be its responsibility, Highways England did not issue a response.

Asked the same questions at the end of October, Norfolk County Council said: “Our highways team are meeting in the next couple of weeks with Highways England, Breckland District Council and Anglian Water to sort out a plan for ongoing maintenance of the pond.”

When pressed on whether they owned the land, they said: “The issues around water management for the pond and the other areas you mentioned are to be discussed at that meeting. All those attending have a role in this area so it will establish what each party will do next. So will have answers after it takes place.”

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