Fight goes on over Thorpe Woodlands

Campaigners fighting to stop hundreds of homes being built on woodland on the edge of Norwich have given a cautious welcome to a new planning blueprint, but warned the devil will be in the detail.

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands formed last year after a consortium of landowners launched a consultation on proposals to build between 630 and 800 houses on land including the Racecourse Plantation.

Last year the group received a boost after Natural England, the government's advisory body on ecological and environmental issues, announced that 32 acres of Thorpe Woods had been officially designated as ancient woodland.

This week, in its National Planning Policy Framework, the government stated that, when it comes to ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland they should be protected.

But the Woodland Trust's chief executive Sue Holden ssaid the framework kept a loophole which allowed for the destruction of habitats where need for development outweighed the loss.


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Lorna Beckett, chairman of the Friends of Thorpe Woodland. said the campaigners had been keeping an eye on the national developments with interest. She said: 'As far as the new framework goes the proof will be in pudding, but if people really are being given a greater say in where development happens, then this woods would not be under threat at all.'

She added that the group was closely monitoring what is happening with the Greater Norwich Development Partnership's Joint Core Strategy - a blueprint for where thousands of homes and jobs will be created by 2026.

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Following a judicial review, the strategy's plans for housing growth to the north east of Norwich, which includes Thorpe Woodland, needs to be looked at again.

The campaigners are still collecting signatures for a petition calling for the woodland, which is off Plumstead Road East, to be safeguarded. The online version is at http://savethorpewoodlands.blogspot.co.uk

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