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How did your Breckland councillors vote on 291 homes in Dereham?

PUBLISHED: 13:16 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 16 January 2018

The Westfield Lane railway bridge in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The Westfield Lane railway bridge in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A tied vote among Breckland councillors forced planning committee chairman Nigel Wilkin to use his casting vote to refuse an application for 291 homes in Dereham yesterday.

The Westfield Lane railway bridge in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt The Westfield Lane railway bridge in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

This newspaper can reveal how the councillors voted.

In favour of the Glavenhill Strategic Land application off Shipdham Road, Westfield Road and Westfield Lane were: Sharpe (Ashill), Joel (Buckenhams & Banham), Brame (Thetford), Wilkinson (Nar Valley) and Bowes (Watton).

Voting for refusal of the application were: Clarke (Dereham Withburga), Duigan (Dereham Toftwood), Richmond (Dereham Neatherd), M Chapman-Allen (Guiltcross) and Martin (Attleborough).

There was one abstention: Hollis (Thetford).

Breckland councillors who voted to refuse the 291 homes in Dereham. L-R top Harry Clarke, Nigel Wilkin, Phillip Duigan, bottom Keith Martin, Marion Chapman-Allen, William Richmond.  Pictures: Archant library Breckland councillors who voted to refuse the 291 homes in Dereham. L-R top Harry Clarke, Nigel Wilkin, Phillip Duigan, bottom Keith Martin, Marion Chapman-Allen, William Richmond. Pictures: Archant library

Phillip Duigan questioned how the developer’s education contributions, of nearly £1m, would be spent.

“Toftwood schools are at capacity for pupils,” he said, “but the site is also at capacity so would the site get planning permission to expand for more pupils?

“That area is also gridlocked at school time so what happens if education can’t deliver at that location.”

He added that the proposed site was too far out of the town centre.

The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt

“It will cause an alternative town centre at the Tesco roundabout because the roads will be too blocked to get into town,” he said.

“Previously sites around Scarning school have been deemed too far out of the centre of Dereham but I bet I could beat Mo Farah into Dereham from Scarning if he started in Toftwood. This is skewing the shape of Dereham.”

Harry Clarke was concerned about the “sustainability” of the development as proposed financial contributions to the NHS did not specify how the money would be spent.

He also supported the town council’s request for more information on the impact it would have on the dangerous junctions at Fen Road and Draytonhall Lane onto the A47.

The proposed 300 homes near Toftwood in Dereham. Picture: Submitted. The proposed 300 homes near Toftwood in Dereham. Picture: Submitted.

“I cannot support an application which may result in an increased risk to life and limb,” he said. “We have to have new data. We need to be satisfied with both the impact on congestion and increased risk of using the A47.”

William Richmond suggested refusal on grounds of intrusion into open countryside, creating a hard edge to the town, harm to the character and appearance of the site and visual impact on the surrounding area.

But in his casting vote Mr Wilkin refused on highways grounds while acknowledging the environmental concerns.

READ MORE: Controversial housing bid is refused

He said a proposed roundabout from the new development onto Shipdham Road was “extremely acceptable” but added: “I have a problem at the other end and using a C-class road as access.

“I am concerned with the bridge that vehicles will want to turn into Westfield Lane and can’t and then you can’t get through to Yaxham.

“I believe 291 homes will impact on this railway bridge and we can’t be designing a new pinch point.”

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