Breckland plan set for approval

A far-reaching plan for the future of Breckland is due to be agreed by councillors today, despite fears it will scupper a plan for a bypass around Brandon.

A far-reaching plan for the future of Breckland is due to be agreed by councillors today, despite fears it will scupper a plan for a bypass around Brandon.

A consortium of landowners around Brandon have challenged Breckland Council's local development framework (LDF), a planning blueprint for the district, saying it is unsound.

They are against a proposal to impose a blanket ban on new buildings on swathes of land around Brandon and neighbouring Thetford as part of a 1,500 metre buffer zone to be introduced around areas where rare stone curlews nest.

This would put a stop to plans for a long-campaigned-for bypass of Brandon - which members of the consortium had offered to pay half the cost of.


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The LDF is due to be signed off today by the full council before it is presented to a planning inspector who will rule if it can be adopted by the council - after taking in views of the consortium and others.

Nick Sibbert, a former RSPB warden now working for the Landscape Partnership representing the consortium, says the buffer zone measure was not required and that there was already sufficient protection in place through European special protection areas covering the land in question.

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In fact, without the new buffer zone policy, stone curlew numbers had steadily increased, from 83 to 246 in 2006, despite a 40pc increase in house numbers. He added: “It is unclear whether councillors had a full understanding of the implications and no public consultation was carried out on the assessment which informed the policy.”

Villagers in Swanton Morley have also spoken out against Breckland's plan - and have written to the council asking for a formal investigation into the conduct of the planning department over their involvement in the LDF process.

They have complained that Breckland officers did not tell them about plans for 20 new homes in the village, that a housing land assessment saying there was space for 190 homes in the village was not shown to the parish council and that a second round of consultation over extra sites added to the plans is being held.

The core strategy, or over-arching policy, of the LDF, including the buffer zone, is to be discussed today, with a recommendation from officers that it be agreed.

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