Diss residents urged to unite as “collective voice” over homes plans

Land north of Frenze Hall Lane has a consultation event later this month for a development of 136 homes ANL-151006-144248009

Land north of Frenze Hall Lane has a consultation event later this month for a development of 136 homes ANL-151006-144248009

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Diss residents have been urged to accept new housing developments are inevitable and begin working together to get the best possible solution for the town.

More than 100 people gathered at a public meeting in the Diss Christian Community Church on Tuesday night to air their thoughts on plans to build 142 houses, including 47 ‘affordable homes’, off Frenze Hall Lane.

There was unanimous opposition from all attending, with infrastructure concerns raised, like impacts on traffic, potential road damage, and the strains on schools and Diss Health Centre.

But the meeting organisers - a small group of local residents - and town councillors asked people to make their views a “collective voice”, rather than lots of individuals, if developer Persimmon Homes and South Norfolk Council’s Planning Committee are to take notice.

Joyce Thomas, of Walcot Rise, who chaired the meeting, said: “Nobody in this area really wants this development, but we have no choice.

“It (the land) has been set aside, and it’s going to be built no matter what we do. We just have to make the best of it.

“We have to make sure our voice is heard. We need people to come forward and we need commitment for the long term because we don’t know how long this will last.”

Town clerk Deborah Sarson told attendees that following a recent meeting, Persimmon would re-submit their application with unspecified changes, plus a construction traffic management survey, this week.

She stated it is important the community comes together and develops a “clear brief” of their concerns to complement the town council’s efforts, which could be used at the eventual meeting where district planners make their final decision.

She added: “It’s really hard to persuade developers to do anything more than build houses. All we can do is do our best to try and make them look at the developments differently.”

Among local initiatives so far is a petition objecting to the application, which has obtained around 350 signatures.

Residents behind the petition have called for alterations to the plans, including a more even spread of affordable homes across the development site, amid fears that concentrating them in one area could devalue existing houses nearby.

Brian Shaw, a housebuilder and resident of Frenze Road, also outlined recommendations he hoped to make to the developers, such as allocating space for wider junctions, as well as a “tree belt” to prevent the new homes from overlooking properties next to the site.

He welcomed anybody with “constructive views” to pitch in, while Mrs Thomas and her husband Alan encouraged people to collate their opinions. To contact them, call 07762 127303.

See info.south-norfolk.gov.uk/online-applications to view the plans (reference 2015/2496).