Families living in North Walsham have launched a petition after developers began planning to build 350 new homes on a woodland site nearby.

Neighbours say building on Nursery Drive woods would destroy two oak trees and have negative implications for wildlife at the site, which was marked for development in North Norfolk District Council's local plan in May 2019.

A planning application is yet to be launched for the development, which is planned for the east side of Norwich Road opposite to where there are currently plans to build 1,800 homes as part of North Walsham West.

Avril Smith, who helped organise the petition, said deer, owls and hares lived in the woodland area, adding that she was happy for work to commence on the field adjacent.

Eastern Daily Press: Nursery Drive woods, behind North Walsham Garden Centre, which is currently earmarked for 350 new homes.Nursery Drive woods, behind North Walsham Garden Centre, which is currently earmarked for 350 new homes. (Image: Google Maps)

She said: "It's not horticultural land because it has been unused for 40 years, it's become a wood, it's even got two oak trees, so it's not brownfield.

"They should be enhancing green areas. We're not saying we don't want them to build, we're just saying don't build on the wood.

"We're all really shocked, mainly because we've all been sitting here enjoying this wildlife.

"I despair, it's a little space, houses could go anywhere, they could get at least 200 houses on the field."

Ms Smith was also concerned the homes would change North Walsham's status as a market town.

A spokesman for developer, Hopkins Homes, said: “We are carrying out initial geotechnical investigations on this area of land that has been allocated for housing development by North Norfolk District Council in the local plan.

“The works are being carried out in line with all necessary regulations and with minimal disruption to the local environment and woodland.

"The removal of scrub vegetation is allowing us to access the areas where investigations are required.

“Hopkins Homes has a long track record of delivering developments to the very highest standards.

"The preservation of the local character and charm including the natural environment is fundamental to any of our developments.

“The investigative work will help us to develop a masterplan for the allocated site which will be submitted to the council’s planning committee for consideration at a later stage.”

The petition currently has 398 signatures and can be viewed here.