Restoration plans for former quarry near Wymondham

New steps are being taken to open up a former south Norfolk quarry as a public nature site.

The restoration of Ketteringham Quarry, near Wymondham, is nearing completion which has involved landfilling the area over several years and returning it to open parkland.

Now the companies that still operate on a portion of the site have applied to Norfolk County Council to improve its entrance and create an informal car park which would provide an official public access to the already restored areas for the first time.

The applicants, Middleton Aggregates Ltd, operators of a recycling facility, and Mobile Concrete Supplies, operators of a concrete batching plant, have also asked to extend their stay at the location until May 2029. As it stands, they are due to stop work by May 2013.

According to the planning documents, a new agreement to be drawn-up following approval would ensure that ownership of an area extending 54 acres (about 22 hectares), including the original quarried area, an adjoining woodland called Lady Belt and the public access, will be gifted to East Carleton and Ketteringham Parish Council.

A steering group already exists with about 20 members, consisting of local residents and external advisors, which is looking at possible future uses and management of the parkland. The application will be considered by the county council during a meeting on Friday.

South Norfolk district councillor Nigel Legg, who represents Ketteringham, said for the sake of extending operations on the site, the village would gain a significant area of public amenity it could not have created itself.

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'There's been an enormous amount of work. With the parish council precept so small it could not possibly have hoped to oversee any of this without some sort of subsidy,' he said. 'If it all comes to fruition of course it will not just be the village but the wider community that benefits due to the public access. If the planning permission does not go through and Middleton Aggregates withdraw, then the village would be left with a huge, attractive grassland, with no means of maintaining it.'

Along with the access improvements, the companies also propose to build new vehicle passing places on Hethersett Road.