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Project to restore historic walkway as 'green promenade' a step nearer

PUBLISHED: 16:05 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:05 20 November 2019

Diss town clerk Sarah Richards (sitting down) with Sonia Browne (Town Mayor), Simon Olander (leader of Diss Town Council), Parish Fields Friends' David Whatley and Helen Sibley from South Norfolk Council. Picture: Parish Fields Friends

Diss town clerk Sarah Richards (sitting down) with Sonia Browne (Town Mayor), Simon Olander (leader of Diss Town Council), Parish Fields Friends' David Whatley and Helen Sibley from South Norfolk Council. Picture: Parish Fields Friends

Parish Fields Friends

Work is set to begin to restore a historic walkway as a new community 'green promenade' after agreement was reached with two councils over the land.

Diss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields. Picture: Sophie SmithDiss Lawns, also known as Parish Fields. Picture: Sophie Smith

Parish Fields is one of the last pieces of large open land in the centre of Diss and has a long history with links to one of the most famous families in the town.

The Taylor family were behind both Diss Corn Hall and The Boundary Belt, the planting of an avenue of trees that encircled The Lawn, otherwise known as Parish Fields, which was used by the Taylors to take a Sunday stroll around the meadows to see the livestock grazing.

Developers Scott Residential are behind controversial plans to build 24 retirement bungalows on part of the currently privately owned Parish Fields.

1886 Ordnance Survey Map shows Parish Fields and The Lawn. Picture: Diss Town Council1886 Ordnance Survey Map shows Parish Fields and The Lawn. Picture: Diss Town Council

MORE: Consultation opens into controversial plans for retirement bungalows on historic green space

Campaign group Parish Fields Friends, which opposes the development, announced in June a separate project to restore the Taylors' historic walkway along the remaining publicly owned section of The Lawn.

Diss Town Council and South Norfolk Council, which own different sections of the remaining Boundary Belt land, have now formally signed a memorandum of understanding allowing work to officially get underway on the project.

Volunteers begin work on the Boundary Belt project to restore a historic walkway in Diss as a new community 'green promenade'. Picture: Parish Fields FriendsVolunteers begin work on the Boundary Belt project to restore a historic walkway in Diss as a new community 'green promenade'. Picture: Parish Fields Friends

A Parish Fields Friends spokesman said: "We're delighted to say that South Norfolk Council and Diss Town Council have signed an agreement to allow us to begin work.

"The Lawn is an area of old parkland in the centre of Diss. It was landscaped in late Georgian times and defined by a boundary belt of trees. "A small part of that belt still exists on land in public ownership, but in a neglected state. It includes yew, oak, beech, and lime trees. Nearby, there is also a scrap of old meadow land rich in plant species. "The proposed walkway runs alongside the car park adjacent to the health centre and then behind the Heritage Triangle car park to the back of Diss Youth and Community Centre."

Volunteers joined in the start of the Boundary Belt project with a special work party on November 20 clearing rubbish from the land. Future work parties will be announced on the group's Facebook page with anyone invited to help out.

Thomas Lombe Taylor, the man who commissioned Diss Corn Hall in 1854, and a member of the Taylor family who planted the Boundary Belt. Picture: Diss Heritage Triangle TrustThomas Lombe Taylor, the man who commissioned Diss Corn Hall in 1854, and a member of the Taylor family who planted the Boundary Belt. Picture: Diss Heritage Triangle Trust

"There is lots of work to do including reinstating the pathway, planting new trees such as box, yew, lime and holly and installing signage," added the spokesman.

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