Victory for Thorpe campaigners in their long fight to save woods from development

PUBLISHED: 13:47 25 July 2014

Belmore Plantation, part of Thorpe Woods, which has been saved from development. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Belmore Plantation, part of Thorpe Woods, which has been saved from development. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

A four-year fight to save a historic woodland from development has ended after councillors voted to save it.

Thorpe Woods, a 200-acre site off Plumstead Road East, Norwich, could have been lost after a consortium of landowners proposed to build up to 800 homes.

The area is designated as a County Wildlife Site but its owner, the Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, wanted to develop it within Broadland District Council’s area action plan (AAP).

The AAP covers the growth triangle which has been earmarked for 10,000 homes as part of the wider growth ambitions of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership.

But at Broadland’s full council meeting earlier this month, members decided the area would not be allocated for development.

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands group was formed in response to the original proposals in 2010 and its 1,000 members have campaigned for the woods to be safeguarded.

Developer Socially Conscious Capital presented two development options at a public consultation. Now the friends’ treasurer, Jason Beckett, said the community was delighted at the outcome and the support shown by the local authority.

“This is a really big step for us,” he said. “This is something
which is at the heart of the community. People in their 80s and 90s have memories of using the woodland.

“When we first started four years ago we never expected we would still be campaigning four years later.”

Although Broadland District Council leader Andrew Proctor said the development allocation would be reviewed by 2026, he added that the development was not suitable at the moment for two reasons.

Firstly, development is not needed, he explained, and it was necessary to ensure building was not taking place “at all costs” – and, secondly, it was necessary to make sure the developments were managed properly.

“It’s essential that appropriate development is undertaken in the appropriate parts of the district,” he said. “The work in putting together the area’s action plan ensures that we can meet those aspirations.”

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