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Decision on 285 homes in Dereham deferred after claims that ‘developers have been permitted to put their profit before children’s play’

PUBLISHED: 12:57 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:58 08 May 2017

A decision on plans to build 285 homes near Dereham Windmill has been deferred.  Picture: Matthew Usher.

A decision on plans to build 285 homes near Dereham Windmill has been deferred. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

A decision over whether to grant planning permission for 285 new homes in Dereham has been delayed.

Breckland Council’s planning committee was due to decide this morning (Monday) on Orbit Homes’ application to build the properties on land south of Greenfields Road, near Dereham Windmill.

But councillors voted 10 to 1 in favour of deferring the decision until more information can be provided about plans for open space within the development.

Orbit Homes already has outline permission to build 220 homes on the site.

Dereham Town Council argued the application was not in accordance with planning policy DC11, which states a development of this size should provide a “minimum of two LEAPs (Local Equipped Area for Play) and outdoor sport area.”

A statement from the town council, read at the meeting, said: “Dereham has a deficit of outdoor sports pitches equivalent to 23 football pitches.
“The reason Dereham has such a deficit is because developers have been permitted to put their profit before children’s play.

“Breckland Council’s policy DC11 states that ‘to address this deficiency in sports fields it is important that new developments contribute to the provision of outdoor playing space.’

“If this application is allowed to go through without meeting the requirements of DC11, then the shortfall of sports pitches in Dereham will increase and it will send a message to every other developer in Breckland that children’s outdoor space in not a priority for Breckland Council.”

District and town councillor Linda Monument raised concerns about the potential of anti social behaviour if Dereham can not provide enough open space for recreation for young people.

The application had been recommended for approval by Breckland Council case officer Matt Ellis, who said in a report: “The development would make a significant contribution towards the supply of housing, including affordable housing.”

His report also states: “The calculated requirement for public open space is 18,470sqm. The scheme provides 22,319sqm of open space which exceeds the requirement by 3,849sqm.”

It adds: “There have been concerns expressed regarding the fragmented nature of the proposed open space on site but it does provide scope for two LEAPs and LAP (Local Area for Play) in different areas of the site to facilitate an even distribution of play space as well as further areas of open green space that have value from a visual amenity perspective.”

Erica Whettingsteel, planning agent for Orbit Homes, said: “Open space was an issue talked about during public consultation.

“It is one of the reasons we changed the application from 315 houses to 285.

“A survey found that the open space already in Dereham is under used.”

She added: “There is provision to put some sort of outdoor sports facility in there but it is not yet agreed what that might be.

“It would not be appropriate to have two football pitches close to where people are living but there is sufficient space to create a kick about area.”

District councillor Alison Webb had also raised concerns over sewage, stating before the meeting: “No more homes should be built in Dereham until they resolve the sewage problems the town is facing.

“There is raw sewage spilling on to pavements near schools and shops and extra homes will make things worse.”

Concerns over the impact the development could have on traffic and the character of the area had also been raised.

Councillors voted to defer a decision until the developers can provide more details about what is planned for the open space within the site.

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