South Walsham villager wins his battle of the broad

A landowner who was facing legal action over his loving restoration of a lost broad is celebrating today after learning he can keep his 'little piece of natural England'.

Retired oil company executive David Pooley, of The Street, South Walsham, spent three years digging out and clearing Sotshole Broad, restoring it from a lifeless, shrinking pond to the dimensions shown on a map from 1886.

He added paths and a boardwalk to his 60 acre site and built wooden quay heading to hold the banks of the freshly dug broad in place.

However, last spring, just as bluebell walkers from neighbouring Fairhaven garden were enjoying public access to the site, the father of two was informed by the Broads Authority (BA) that he should have applied for planning permission.

He was told he had 'suburbanised' the Broadland beauty spot and might face legal action unless he stripped out all his improvements.

The BA's stance caused a huge public outcry but after months of negotiation, Mr Pooley has been granted retrospective planning permission.

Minor conditions include a stipulation that he must make the edge of the quay heading look more natural and formalise the agreement with Fairhaven garden to give three weeks of public access.

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Mr Pooley said: 'It is a great relief to have all this behind us and we would like to thank everyone who supported us. This restoration has been undertaken at no cost to the taxpayer, but one has to wonder how much time and money has been wasted by the BA in arriving at this sensible conclusion.'

He said they would now be cleaning up the woods ready for this year's bluebell season.

'Having left the place untended while these negotiations rolled on, we have an awful lot to do,' he said.

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