Briggate Mill inquiry location victory
Ed FossThe location of a public inquiry which will decide whether an area of land around a disused Norfolk mill will be recognised as a public open space and protected from development has been changed - to the delight of campaigners.Ed Foss
The location of a public inquiry which will decide whether an area of land around a disused Norfolk mill will be recognised as a public open space and protected from development has been changed - to the delight of campaigners.
The 'village green' inquiry for the land around Briggate Mill was originally to be held at Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich, a decision which angered villagers.
It also led them to claim it would impact on their efforts because most witnesses and supporters, many of them elderly, would not be able or prepared to make a time consuming and sometimes difficult 40 mile round trip to give their evidence.
But that decision has been reversed and the hearing will be held at Worstead Village Hall, half a mile from Briggate, instead.
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Previous village green application inquiries around Norfolk have been held locally rather than at the council's headquarters and the change in the established practice had been put down to the need to save council costs and staff time.
The two-day hearing will be held on the same dates as originally announced, July 12 and 13.
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The hearing will assess claims that the land in question has been used by the public for more than 20 years, with first-hand evidence from people attending playing a key part alongside written submissions.
Campaigner Diana Howes said: 'We are delighted by the change in venue, it is a brilliant result.
'We have been supported enormously by our local county councillor Paul Morse and Worstead Parish Council, and we are very grateful to them.
'We know we will get many more people to attend now it is on the doorstep rather than a lengthy journey away.'
Mr Morse said: 'To me Worstead is the right place to have the inquiry, things like this should not be in remote, formal buildings.'
Villagers claim they have used the land for dog walking, blackberry picking, picnicking and kite flying, among other uses, since former owners abandoned it in 1974.
County council spokesman John Birchall said they had decided the extra cost 'was reasonable for the convenience of local people' and thanked the village hall's booking clerk for taking the booking.