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Diss pensioner demands apology claiming town council ‘sold him a dump’ on Heywood Road





An angry pensioner is demanding an apology from a town council after accusing the authority of selling him a dump.

Phil Sanders, 72, bought a bungalow on Heywood Road, from Diss Town Council for £275,000 in March, and looked forward to setting up home with wife, Carol, 70, after moving from Thetford.

The former cemetery keeper’s home, built in the 1970s, also came with a parcel of land to the side, which he said the council offered as part of the deal.

Phil Sanders with a sign he has constructed outside his home. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Phil Sanders with a sign he has constructed outside his home. Picture: Mark Bullimore

But after moving into the three-bedroom home, Mr Sanders discovered tonnes of concrete and waste material buried under the land, which he has spent weeks – and around £1,000 – clearing away.

The former builder was also shocked to discover that a ditch that runs alongside the land could be contaminated.

“One of my neighbours showed me an environmental report – produced in February 2023 by South Norfolk Council – in connection with plans for a housing development alongside us.

The rubble discovered under the land
The rubble discovered under the land

“The officer said there was a potential unacceptable risk from contamination and a full risk assessment should be undertaken.

“He said that the full extent of the contamination should be investigated with regard to the potential risk to human health, buildings, crops, livestock, pets, woodland, pipes, land, controlled waters and ecological systems.

“I wonder if the contamination could have come from the cemetery itself.

“We weren’t even made aware of this by Diss Town Council, which also neglected to tell us about the tonnes of rubble and rubbish under the land, which was hidden by overgrowth.

The ditch were the potential contaimination was found
The ditch were the potential contaimination was found

“They had the nerve to say it had been dumped there by passers-by but there was tonnes of concrete, large workstones, an old waterworks sign, fencing, roof tiles, even a car battery and old wheelbarrow.

“I just want an apology and acknowledgement.”

According to South Norfolk Council, the preliminary investigation into the ditch was carried out in relation to land to the west, while determining a planning application for 179 homes.

The land under which the rubble was discovered. Picture submitted
The land under which the rubble was discovered. Picture submitted

The homes have been given outline planning permission, but on the condition that a full risk assessment is carried out before any homes are built.

The district council was unable to confirm if the land to the east of the ditch could be affected.

“I did hire a private company to investigate the land but they wanted another £4,000 for a full risk assessment, which I couldn’t afford,” said Mr Sanders.

He has spent weeks clearing the land
He has spent weeks clearing the land

“At the last moment prior to the sale going through, the town council also included a demand to access the ditch without explaining why.”

A spokesman for Diss Town Council said: “As joint riparian owners, the town council, along with the owner of the neighbouring land, is partly responsible for the maintenance of the ditch alongside the cemetery and, therefore, requires access to maintain it.

“Any other matters outside of the remit of Diss Town Council will need to be raised with the relevant responsible body.

“The developer of the neighbouring land will be responsible for ensuring the conditions of the planning consent are met, including any environmental surveys.”



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