Toftwood 100 homes scheme set for approval

Congestion on Westfield Road

Congestion on Westfield Road - Credit: Archant

A housing scheme for 100 new homes in Dereham looks set to get the green light, despite repeated calls by the town council and residents to retain the land for employment use.

The site in question is behind the Rash's Green Industrial Estate with Westfield Road, Toftwood, to the western boundary.

The trustees of the GT Scott Will Trust, through agents Beacon Planning, applied to Breckland Council to build up to 100 dwellings on the 3.6 hectare site. It would demolish an existing bungalow on Westfield Road to make way for the access road.

Officers have recommended the application for approval on grounds that the site is considered suitable for residential and that prospects for employment development were poor.

The applicant contends that the site would not be marketable in its current condition for employment use as there is no direct access off Rash's Green and it is unserviced and too close to existing housing.

In its lengthy list of objections Dereham Town Council argues that there is not enough evidence to prove sustainability for housing in terms of employment opportunities.

It says: 'Dereham Central has an unemployment rate which has been increasing and is much higher than the Breckland and national average.

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'There is currently insufficient employment opportunities within Dereham therefore this site should be retained and marketed as an employment site rather than a residential site.'

It adds that a noise reported looked at current not potential noise levels and the housing development would limit the use of Rash's Green. It suggests a 'logical' approach to provide office type development.

Concerns were also raised about traffic along Westfield Road which is over the road's capacity at peak times and additional pressure will create serious safety issues, particularly near the Toftwood schools.

'It is felt that a new road junction so close to this school entrance would make an existing unacceptable situation intolerable,' it adds.

An asset management report also concludes that demand for employment land and property is high in Dereham and says that the site has not been properly marketed for such use.

It said there had been interest from a large call centre employer who contacted the owners of the site. 'But the owners rejected the enquiry and solicitors did not repond either,' it said.

A planning report, prepared ahead of the committee meeting at Breckland on Monday, states that among the objections from local residents there was also a letter from a local developer expressing interest in the land for commercial units.

It adds that a section 106 agreement is currently being drafted 'to include obligations relating to the provision of affordable housing, on-site public open space and financial contributions to improve local schools (circa £639,700), library services (£6,000) and medical practice facilities (£31,520)'.

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