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Protesters pack meeting over proposals to build on historic green space

PUBLISHED: 13:04 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 10 January 2019

Standing room only as about 70 people packed into a meeting oif Diss Town Council to hear more about plans for development on Parish Fields. Picture: Graham Minshull

Standing room only as about 70 people packed into a meeting oif Diss Town Council to hear more about plans for development on Parish Fields. Picture: Graham Minshull

Archant

Concerns over the future of a historic green space saw dozens of people pack into a meeting to voice their opposition to controversial proposals to build retirement bungalows.

Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. Picture: Sophie SmithDiss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. Picture: Sophie Smith

Scott Residential has proposed 24 bungalows on currently private and undeveloped land in Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, between Shelfanger Road and Mount Street in Diss.

Almost 70 people crammed into the Diss Town Council meeting on Wednesday to hear representatives from the Essex-based house builder outline their vision for the land.

The large turn out with many people unable to get into the meeting room at Diss Corn Hall forced the town’s mayor to allow people to be allowed to stand behind councillors while Richard Martin and Martin Scott from the developers spoke.

Outline proposals would see 24 retirement bungalows built on just under half of Parish Fields in Diss. Picture: Scott Residential/Diss Town CouncilOutline proposals would see 24 retirement bungalows built on just under half of Parish Fields in Diss. Picture: Scott Residential/Diss Town Council

There is currently no public access to the land which is listed in the South Norfolk Local Plan as an important local open space, with a historic association with 60 Mount Street.

The meeting heard Scott Residential was currently seeking advice from the district and town councils, as well as other stakeholders, before submitting a planning application. They also plan an extensive public consultation, including an exhibition and face-to-face meetings, to take on board local concerns.

Martin Scott said: “Obviously we have come here tonight to listen to what everyone has to say. This is way off happening or being a real planning application. That is what this part of the process is all about to hear points of view.”

Protesters have raised concerns proposals for retirement bungalows on Parish Fields in Diss fail to take into account its history and significance as a green space. Picture: GoogleProtesters have raised concerns proposals for retirement bungalows on Parish Fields in Diss fail to take into account its history and significance as a green space. Picture: Google

David Whatley, who lives in Haywood Road, drew a loud round of applause when he said the proposals failed to take into account the history of the site and its significance as one of the last remaining green spaces in the centre of the town.

He said: “This is a historic part of Diss and it shouldn’t be seen as being like any other piece of open space. That is why there is much strength of feeling and so much sincere concern over this. They have no idea of the history of this important part of the town.”

Under the outline proposals 45pc of the site would be developed for retirement bungalows and their gardens, including the removal of some trees, while there would be pedestrian access linking Mount Street with Shelfanger Road.

Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. Picture: Sophie SmithDiss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields, could be developed into a complex of 24 retirement bungalows. Picture: Sophie Smith

After concerns were raised that the rest of the site could also be built on at a later date, Mr Scott said the developers would be willing to examine ways to transferring the remaining part of the land into public ownership with a maintenance fund for its upkeep.

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