Villagers' fears for future of beloved deer park

The Deer Park in Old Catton. Pictured inset is Ken Leggett, a tenant of the nearby Buttercup Meadow 

The Deer Park in Old Catton. Pictured inset is Ken Leggett, a tenant of the nearby Buttercup Meadow - Credit: Simon Finlay/Brittany Woodman

Homeowners concerned about the future of a popular park turned up in their droves to express their fears at a community event.

Old Catton Parish Council held its monthly meeting on Monday evening in which the future of the Deer Park in Old Catton's Spixworth Road was discussed. 

The park has been sold by the Buxton family to a company, which has not been identified at this stage, and many people fear the land may be used for housing in the future. 

The Buxton family previously said they bowed out of the site because it was not viable due to family members being dotted all over the country.

They have also done their best to quash ideas that the site could be turned into housing, adding: "that is not what the land is for".

Around 30 people attended the council meeting to share their thoughts as the meeting was moved outside for Covid precautions. 

Andrew Buxton, front, and Bradley Sapperton-Coe, right, chairman of the Old Catton Parish Council, a

Andrew Buxton, front, and Bradley Sabberton-Coe, right, chairman of the Old Catton Parish Council, at the renamed Buxton Lodge, Catton Park, with members of the parish council and Andrew's son, Harry, second right. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Parish clerk Sarah Vincent said: "All the council knows is that the land has been sold to a developer and we are looking to have a meeting with them to find out what the plans are for the park.

"The Deer Park is key to the history of Old Catton and many people used the footpath to the side of it during lockdown.

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"It is a regularly used route because the views are so beautiful from the top looking down to Church Street."

The parish council has promised to update villagers over the future of the park as soon as it is known.

Ken Leggett, who is a tenant of the nearby Buttercup Meadow, was among those who attended the meeting.

Kenneth Leggett, Broadland District Councillor has completed 50 Catton parkruns by walking them. Pic

Ken Leggett, who is a tenant of the Buttercup Meadow in Old Catton - Credit: Brittany Woodman

He said: "There were so many people expressing their views and wanting to know the future of the Deer Park. Their concern was what the future of the park was.

"I understand the tenant who has got the horses on the park has a contract and it could be for the rest of 2022. 

The horses in Deer Park, Old Catton inspired Anna Sewell to write Black Beauty.

The horses in Deer Park, Old Catton inspired Anna Sewell to write Black Beauty. - Credit: Peter Dent

"The park is in a designated conservation area and it is covered by the neighbourhood plan. 

"People are concerned about any changes which could impact health and wellbeing."