Historic green space could be protected from housing plans
- Credit: Simon Parkin
Campaigners hope a treasured green space has moved a step closer to protection from a developer looking to build new homes in the area.
Parish Fields, one of the last remaining pieces of large open land in the centre of Diss, has a long history with links to one of the town's most famous families.
The Taylor family, who commissioned Diss Corn Hall in 1854, also planted an avenue of trees that encircled the fields, otherwise known as The Lawn.
In recent years, however, a proposal by Scott Properties to build 24 retirement bungalows on the privately-owned space have hung over the town.
But new documents outlining the county's growth over the next 20 years have confirmed Parish Fields' future is firmly in the hands of the local people.
Publication of a draft version of the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP), which is still to be ratified, says future development is at the discretion of those in the Diss area through its own neighbourhood plan.
The GNLP outlines that Diss - in addition to its existing housing commitments - will be required to deliver a further 400 homes up to 2038.
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It adds: "The Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan (DDNP) will have to fulfil the remaining housing requirement, but otherwise has freedom within the statutory framework to make its own choices.”
The DDNP steering group has committed to publishing its draft plan in the spring.
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Parish Fields Friends, a campaign group opposing the prospective development, called the latest instalment in the saga "a big step in the right direction".
A spokesman added: "The DDNP offers local people a real say in the future of this precious ancient meadow. Through the GNLP, it can play a role in helping to decide where to build and where to preserve.
"Following local consultation, the DDNP is expected to recognise Parish Fields as an important local green space. While the move by the GNLP doesn’t yet mean Parish Fields is safe from the developer, it is a big step in the right direction.
"It should be remembered that Parish Fields is privately-owned and we hope that, in time, the landowner might agree to working with us to develop a future alternative vision that will preserve it for generations to come."
Scott Properties declined to comment.