Broadland District Council has designated The Deer Park in Old Catton an Asset of Community Value. Assets of Community Value are buildings, land or amenities that are important to communities and the people that use them and the Localism Act gave community groups the opportunity to retain and save facilities such as pubs, village shops, pavilions and green spaces.
The Deer Park is part of renowned landscape designer Humphry Repton’s vision for Old Catton and was his first paid commission. It is also well known as the inspiration for Black Beauty, written by Anna Sewell at her house on Spixworth Road.
Broadland District Council’s heritage champion, Karen Vincent, said: “I am delighted to hear that the Deer Park has been designated an Asset of Community Value. The Deer Park is quite simply unique – not only of historical importance, and a visual amenity readily seen and enjoyed by all that pass by, it is an important natural habitat which supports a myriad of wildlife and birds. The Deer Park is recognised as an open space of real importance, local visual amenity value and historic importance in the Old Catton Neighbourhood Plan. The Park is also registered by Historic England as a Grade II designated park” The Deer Park is in the heart of the Old Catton Conservation Area that defines the character of this historic part of the village.
“With unobstructed views from Spixworth Road, the main road running through Old Catton, the Deer Park is enjoyed by all that pass or stop to visit the war memorial or grazing horses. It is also open to view from adjacent footpaths running the length and width of the Deer Park linking hundreds of homes with local schools, church and community facilities. The Deer Park is considered to be of great value to the whole community, not just residents living nearby but also in neighbouring villages and those using the Spixworth Road.”
There had been concerns that the land would be used for housing but if the owner of an Asset of Community Value wishes to sell it, they must first inform the council. This triggers the Community Right to Bid – which essentially gives voluntary and community organisations a chance to prepare to bid on the asset. There is a six month moratorium during which the owner cannot sell the property on the open market, designed to give time to the community groups to develop a proposal and raise any necessary capital.