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Owner of Parish Fields in Diss says bungalow plans are a 'fair compromise'

Parish Fields in Diss. ..Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.
Parish Fields in Diss. ..Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.

The owner of a historic piece of land in Diss has defended his desire to sell part of the site to developers, despite a backlash from protesters.

Landowner Ben Gaze said that the issue of developing Parish Fields had been “going on for years” and what has been proposed is a good compromise.

Developer Scott Properties wants to build 24 bungalows on the site, which is between Shelfanger Road and Mount Street.

Around 80 people packed a town council meeting earlier this month to hear about the plans and express their concerns over the historic and ecological value of the site.

A campaign group, called the Parish Fields Friends Facebook group, has been set up and held its first meeting at the United Reformed Church on Monday.

Mr Gaze told the Diss Express: “It (the proposals) gives half to the town and that is about the best I can do at the moment. There is no footpath or access now and this will cost me four-and-a-half very expensive acres.”

The bungalow plans will take up 45 per cent of the area, including parking and garage spaces.

Scott Properties said the plans had been instigated by Mr Gaze and that the new submission was inspired by recent findings in the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan.

A consultation for the neighbourhood plan included three priorities for Diss, which included “agreeing acceptable development proposals to unlock Parish Fields for public access”.

Eighty-six per cent of 695 respondents either strongly agreed, or agreed with the priorities, including that for Parish Fields.

Mr Gaze said the bungalow development would also allow a formal footpath to be established, linking Shelfanger Road and Mount Street.

He said this would help end a situation where anybody who said they walked their dogs on Parish Fields “was, in effect, trespassing”.

Around 45 people, including members of the public, were present at the campaign group meeting last Monday, which organiser Tim Holt-Wilson described as a “cordial and well-argued meeting”.

“A range of views were expressed with the strongest expression being a wish to keep the site as it is,” said Mr Holt-Wilson.

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