Huge turnout at consultation on controversial 300 home plan

Residents, campaigners and councillors at Dussindale Community Centre

Local residents, campaigners and councillors attended a consultation exhibition on Wednesday to give their feedback on a planned 300 home development in Thorpe St Andrew. - Credit: Noah Vickers

Hundreds of people poured into a community centre to hear about controversial plans to build 300 homes on the edge of Norwich.

Planning permission was given for the 300 homes on land off Plumstead Road East in Thorpe St Andrew in January 2019.

The permission for the development had initially been rejected by Broadland District Council, but the original applicants, Socially Conscious Capital Norwich LLP and the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust, overturned the rejection by successfully appealing to the planning inspectorate. Concerns centred upon a lack of facilities in the area and potential damage to nearby woodland.

A developer called Hill then bought the land, and the permission for 300 homes that came with it. 

Information boards about 300 homes in Thorpe St Andrew

A series of information boards about the plans were on show at Dussindale Community Centre - Credit: Noah Vickers

At a consultation event organised by Hill at Dussindale Community Centre on Wednesday afternoon, a queue of people anxious to hear about the plans queued outside of the door. 

Dussindale Community Centre

By 5pm, a queue of people had formed outside the community centre, with people anxious to learn about the plan for 300 homes. - Credit: Noah Vickers

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After two hours of the four-hour event had passed, more than 150 people had come. 

Jason Beckett

Former campaigner Jason Beckett said he did not want to see the remaining woodland around the development become "Disney-fied". - Credit: Noah Vickers

Jason Beckett, a former campaigner for the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, said: “I have come to see if there’s any scope to limit the damage that’s going to be done now and to hope that, apart from the housing that’s been given permission already, what remains is retained as woodland, which is of a high value to wildlife, and is not turned into a Disney-fied parkland.”

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Local district and county councillor Ian Mackie said: “I think it demonstrates how important these woods are by the sheer numbers of people who turned out this evening to hear about it.

Cllr Ian Mackie

Conservative district and county councillor Ian Mackie said the plan was "a tragedy" but the focus now had to be on influencing the remaining aspects of the plan still to be decided. - Credit: Noah Vickers

“It’s now quite clear that what is being proposed is a tragedy for what is a finely balanced ecosystem and to see 300 houses being built on a prime County Wildlife Site is shocking.”

He said the aim now had to be to mitigate the development's impact. 

Resident Shelley Luke said she was disappointed by how much of the development appeared already to have been decided. 

Shelley Luke and her daughters Anya and Leia

Shelley Luke and her daughters Anya (left) and Leia (right) - Credit: Noah Vickers

“It seems that people’s voices are being trumped by the red tape of ‘This is what is needed’ even though we’re saying it's not needed, which is rather frustrating,” she said. 

Jennie Pedley

Despite having some concerns about the development, Jennie Pedley said the idea of heating the homes sustainably was "fantastic". - Credit: Noah Vickers

Resident Jennie Pedley said that though she had concerns about the development, the proposal to heat the homes sustainably would be “fantastic”, if carried out. 

Chloe Houston, a Hill development manager, said: “We’ve had a really good turnout, which is positive to see.

Chloe Houston

Hill development manager Chloe Houston said the high turnout was positive and that feedback would be used to shape the reserved matters of the plans. - Credit: Noah Vickers

“Obviously there is a lot of apprehension about the development. 

“We believe that taking residents’ feedback on board will be able to provide a good scheme and a high quality development.”

A Hill spokesperson said on Thursday: "We were delighted with the fantastic turnout at our consultation event for Plumstead Road East yesterday.

"We understand there is great interest in this development and are looking forward to working with local communities as we formalise our plans.

"We are confident our sustainable approach to development will deliver the best outcomes for this new site, and with fewer than the allocated 300 homes planned for delivery, we have recognised feedback received to date.

"In addition, the development will bring significant benefits to the community, including funding for local infrastructure enhancements, including schools within the district.

"We will be taking feedback on board from yesterday's consultation as we progress towards a full application."

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