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Breckland Council hears ‘save land for town’ plea

Swaffham Museum Manager Sue Gattuso
Swaffham Museum Manager Sue Gattuso

An area of open space in the heart of Swaffham should be purchased for the town in order to protect it from possible future building works, a meeting has heard.

Concerns were raised about the status of the Antingham when town councillors met on Monday evening.

And a presentation on the issue by the manager of the town’s museum, Dr Sue Gattuso, was followed by calls for action.

Jan Buckley-Stevens told the meeting: “I would like to look at us buying it for the town. It’s the only land we have got for the town.”

Former mayor Anne Thorp added: “After hearing what Sue has said, we should do everything we can as a town council to protect that land.”

In her presentation, Dr Gattuso said the town had a shortfall of open space and the land had been recommended to be designated as such by Breckland council officials.

She suggested that the history of the land showed there was an understanding that the town had at least a right to use it dating back well over a century.

And she argued that a suggested plan to lease part of the site to the town for 40 years, while allowing development of some areas for homes and extensions of both the community centre and the parish churchyard, was inadequate.

She said: “It just means we will have exactly the same argument in 40 years time.”

Dr Gattuso also called for full research of the site to be carried out if, and before, any future building project is to be undertaken there.

She said: “Here we have land that has not been touched since the Middle Ages at least.

“I plead for an archaeological excavation over this whole site, before any building takes place.

“Not just a desktop job. Nor just the shallow trenches dug in the churchyard last year.

“There may be nothing there, but once it is covered in concrete we have lost the opportunity for a long, long time.”

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