‘The overall population is not being given enough consideration in favour of a box ticking exercise’ Dereham Town Council considers legal action against Breckland Council over Local Plan

Town and district councillor Harry Clarke.

Town and district councillor Harry Clarke.

A town council is considering a legal challenge against its district over its handling of the Local Plan.

Dereham town councillors believe Breckland Council is rushing through the document, which will have a major impact on the district's future.

They believe concerns of residents and councillors are not being fully investigated as the district council works towards completing it early next year.

Breckland's Local Plan sets out a vision for housing and industrial growth. It states how many homes should be built and where they should be located over the next 20 years.

Once adopted in 2017, the Local Plan will set out policies to help determine planning applications.

Dereham town councillors have agreed to spend £2,000 on seeking professional advice and could then take further legal input on how to challenge the validity of Breckland's Local Plan.

Town and district councillor Harry Clarke said: 'We are reflecting what a lot of residents are thinking. The overall population is not being given enough consideration in favour of a box ticking exercise – being rushed through to a deadline.'

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Town councillors believe a transport study, which examines measures to mitigate traffic growth in Dereham, does not go far enough and are concerned that the town has been earmarked for 750 homes – 592 more than originally stated in the draft plan.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said: 'The council is analysing the responses to the recent round of public consultation on the Local Plan and will make any amendments considered necessary prior to publishing the pre-submission publication draft in spring 2017.

'After the close of the pre-submission publication period the plan would then be submitted for independent examination. Organisations or individuals who have unresolved objections at this point will have the opportunity to have those considered by an independent government planning inspector who will be appointed to examine the soundness of the plan.

'Should the plan be found sound and subsequently be adopted by the council, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 contains provisions for those who may still have objections to apply to the High Court to challenge the validity of the plan.'