Diss and district - what are the priorities
People are being urged to get involved if they care about Diss and how it will develop in the future.
“You can’t just stand back and do nothing and then, further down the line, say you weren’t asked,” said Mike Bootman, chairman of the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan steering group this week.
Mr Bootman was speaking following the publication of the 500 written responses to the draft vision for the development of Diss and neighbouring Waveney Valley parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Many of the responses air familiar grievances: the traffic-choked Victoria Road; the Mere’s Mouth toilets; charity shops and the decline of the town centre; the dilapidated former Diss Junior School.
Others betray a lack of understanding of what local authorities can do or have the resources to achieve.
The compulsory purchase of a major motor trader to clear a space for a town centre leisure complex will remain a pipe dream, as will the “elevated” carriageway on the south of the Waveney to solve the traffic congestion in Diss.
Some of the responses can never be reconciled. Traffic rat runs are a sensitive issue in Palgrave in particular and also in Burston and Shimpling, while responses hint of a suspicion that Diss’ road problems are being off-loaded on to neighbouring villages.
Other respondents say shutting minor routes would simply mean even more traffic on major roads that are already inadequate.
Some responses avoid the wider plan and are guided entirely by personal experience or interest.
Closing Crossing Road at Palgrave as an unofficial link between the A143 and A1066 is welcomed by some, but it is also seen as a vital link from Stuston and to the school.
“Whoever thought of that scheme was a complete idiot,” observed one blunt respondent.
Better footpaths, cycle routes and walkways, such as along the River Waveney, are vital to some. But dividing footpaths between pedestrians and cyclists, as on Victoria Road in Diss, is not supported. “A very stupid idea,” was one response. “Dangerous to pedestrians.”
Many responses centre on concerns that house building will get ahead of services, like surgeries and schools, and that Diss will simply grind to a halt and it will be easier to get into Norwich to shop.
Others dismiss the fantasy talk of bypasses and instead urge for some reality in settling for what we have and managing it better.
Mr Bootman said that, although many responses were contradictory, they were still invaluable in informing the neighbourhood plan, as well as the Greater Norwich and Norfolk plans.
The steering group would now distil the responses and settle on which were the most realisable.
The steering and structure plans were not paper exercises, but an opportunity for people to have a say on the future, he said.
Although there had been 500 responses, he was hopeful of more in the future.
He urged traders, people with shared interests and single interest groups – like those that opposed the Persimmon housing development – to actively involve themselves in all planning opportunities.
To submit your views, use e-mail: email@example.com
For background, visit www.dndneighbourhoodplan.co.uk
The Diss Express is currently campaigning for a Fair Deal for Diss