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Outcry as land in Diss cleared for housing and trees felled at beauty spot

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People have voiced their opposition to a series of new housing developments at a picturesque site in Diss.

A number of new homes – some built, some being built – have impeded views at the Mere, with trees being cut down and vital green space eroded, it has been claimed.

Opposition to new development has grown louder ahead of the local government elections next month, while the Greater Norwich and South Norfolk local plans – which pledge to build hundreds of new homes in the town – continue to ruffle feathers amongst those who wish to see more land preserved, not built on.

Brian Falk claimed recent construction work had damaged some of the historic open spaces around the Mere. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Brian Falk claimed recent construction work had damaged some of the historic open spaces around the Mere. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Brian Falk, from Long View, Bressingham, said: “South Norfolk planners and its development management committee continue – despite strong local opposition and protests – to allow development that erodes and damages the historic open spaces around the Mere, transferring public assets to private ownership.”

The current South Norfolk Development Plan states that the open land around the Mere is “important local open space”, and should be kept as such. However, in recent years, a number of homes have been built in the area.

Frances King added: “Although living less than five miles from Diss, I have only made brief and occasional visits there during the last year because of the pandemic.

“On a longer visit there this week, I was quite shocked to see how the town’s major natural asset, the Mere, had changed during my absence.

“This lovely oasis of calm water and lush vegetation in the middle of the town has been savaged at one end, where several large trees have been cut down or severely cut back and the land behind them cleared for new houses.

“The fact that this development is being allowed on what has been designated an ‘important local open space’ and is right next to the new wildlife garden is particularly upsetting.”

Peter Hyde, chairman of the Heritage Triangle Trust, criticised the district council for not keeping true to its word.

He said: “The council needs to stick to its planning policies, which state that the area around the Mere is an important local space.

“It has gone against what its own rules and regulations are.

“The planners seem more interested in giving consent to a few people than what the enjoyment of the Mere might give to the local population.”

In response, a spokesman for South Norfolk Council said: “Any planning application that comes forward would have to go through the formal planning process and be assessed on its individual merits.

“It will also be subject to formal consultations with the town council, local residents and technical consultees.”

The Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan, devised by Diss Town Council, sets out protective measures to preserve the remaining green space in the town.

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