Objectors stage silent protest against proposed new homes in Reepham

Realistic Reepham chairman Mark Bridges with supporters after making their silent protest at the Tow

Realistic Reepham chairman Mark Bridges with supporters after making their silent protest at the Town Hall exhibition outlying the proposed development of the area that they feel is ill considered. Photo: Steve Adams

It was a case of power to the people in a mid-Norfolk town when a silent protest was staged against proposed housing developments.

More than 60 people took to Reepham Town Hall on Thursday night where a public consultation was held on up to 200 new homes proposed to be built around the town.

Broadland District Council held the exhibition for anyone concerned about the scheme that could see the west of the town in Dereham Road and in Whitwell Road to the south grow significantly.

Mark Bridges, who founded Realistic Reepham in 2011 – a group with concerns about the council's development plans – spoke at a public meeting held adjacent to the council's.

He said the recommendations were 'carving up good farmland' and would put even more strain on the area's infrastructure.

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The town's schools would become overcrowded, according to the group, the traffic would worsen, drainage and wastewater could cause serious problems and the wait for doctor's appointments would get longer.

'We feel it's frustrating', he said. 'It's their game and their rules but we are determined and we won't let them win.'

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In his presentation at St Michael's Hall, he said other towns such as Dereham, Holt, Aylsham and Fakenham had 'lost their character, lost their soul and lost their community' as a result of developments and did not want the same to happen to Reepham.

John Walchester, the spatial planning manager for the district council, said the core strategy plan for the houses was based around key services in the town which 'makes it a good location for people to live'.

The Dereham Road site is close to the doctor's surgery and the Whitwell Road site is opposite Reepham High School. Mr Walchester said if the proposals got planning permission from councillors then they could be built in three to ten years.

Yesterday's public exhibition was the last before developers are invited to bid for the sites where they will have to provide 33pc of affordable housing.

Elizabeth Wood, former owner of The Crown in Reepham, said she went to Realistic Reepham's meeting because she felt the proposals were wrong. 'It's too much too quick,'' she said. 'Reepham is a beautiful part of the county and it just doesn't lend itself to this type of development.'

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