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Fresh bid to develop land next to ancient woodland

PUBLISHED: 13:32 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:32 28 August 2018

The proposed site off the Thetford Road, for 180 homes in Watton. Picture: Submitted

The proposed site off the Thetford Road, for 180 homes in Watton. Picture: Submitted

Archant

Developers have launched a fresh bid to build 180 homes next to an ancient woodland rooted in folklore.

Wayland Wood, near Watton. Picture: Ian BurtWayland Wood, near Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

If given the go-ahead, the development would be built off the A1075 Thetford Road in Watton, close to Wayland Wood, at the heart of the Babes in the Wood legend, which many residents fear would put it at risk.

When the application from Gladman Developments was first submitted in 2016, it received 240 objections and was turned down by Breckland Council’s planning committee.

Campaigners felt the woodland - a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) - was at increased risk from “serious pollution caused by littering and misuse”.

The developer appealed the decision at a planning inquiry and it was granted permission.

Campaigners pictured outside Wayland Wood in 2016 following the first submission of the 180 home bid in Watton.  Picture: Ian BurtCampaigners pictured outside Wayland Wood in 2016 following the first submission of the 180 home bid in Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

Keith Gilbert, a district and town councillor, spoke of his frustration that the application had been submitted again.

“It is disappointing it has come back,” he said. “We had hoped that it would just wither on the vine. We are once again going to offer a strong resistance.

“There is the impact it could have on Wayland Wood, which is internationally recognised. We have rare birds and other wildlife in the woods.”

He said that he is not against development but said the town has been inundated with housing applications.

Wayland Wood, near Watton. Picture: Ian BurtWayland Wood, near Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

“We just, as a town, cannot accommodate a development of that size on top of all the other stuff that is being dumped on us at this time,” he said.

“I have never been against development. When I moved to Watton in 1976 I bought a brand new bungalow. Everywhere needs to progress but we have had too much in a short time.

“It would be different if they came back in 10 years.”

The development would be a mix of houses and apartments, from one bedroom to four bedrooms, and would include 45 social houses.

Campaigners pictured outside Wayland Wood in 2016 following the first submission of the 180 home bid in Watton.  Picture: Ian BurtCampaigners pictured outside Wayland Wood in 2016 following the first submission of the 180 home bid in Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

A play area would be included in addition to pedestrian and cycle links towards the town centre.

In the design statement submitted with the application it states the development would “respect the local character”.

It added: “The proposed landscape scheme creates a southern gateway into Watton that provides a sympathetic transition between the urban edge and the local rural landscape.”

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