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Major revamp could be on cards for estate which is home to thousands

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 01 November 2019

The Abbey Estate in Thetford. Pic: Sonya Duncan
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The Abbey Estate in Thetford. Pic: Sonya Duncan ;.

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

The future of a Norfolk housing estate, home to thousands of people, is to come under the spotlight - with the potential for a major revamp.

Ricky Aylott, 40, who lives on Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.Ricky Aylott, 40, who lives on Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.

The Abbey Estate in Thetford is just over 50 years old, but could be set for major changes if a drive to come up with a new vision for the area comes to fruition.

Flagship Housing, which owns 670 of the 1,178 homes on the estate, is looking to join forces with Norfolk County Council, Breckland District Council and the local community to forge a better future for the estate.

Documents which will come before the two councils next week say the design of the estate means it lacks recreational facilities and some areas are afflicted by anti-social behaviour.

Both councils will be asked to agree a 'memorandum of understanding' with Flagship Housing over "meaningful changes and improvements to the estate".

Chris Baldwin, 42, who lives on Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.Chris Baldwin, 42, who lives on Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.

The scale of what could happen - or how much could be available - is not yet clear, but Norfolk County Council's cabinet will be asked to agree to put £100,000 into a development budget for the preliminary part of the project.

A spokeswoman for Flagship Housing said they had been speaking to local residents. She said: "The feedback we've gained has highlighted the strong sense of community within the area, however a number of concerns have been raised by residents including the use of garage sites and open space and the levels of anti-social behaviour.

"Some of the concerns residents have raised will require a collaborative approach, therefore we have engaged with Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council.

"We will continue to engage with residents and welcome them to come along to future sessions to discuss what matters to them.

Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.

People living on the estate said improvements were needed.

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Ricky Aylott, 40, who works at the Abbey Café and lives in Gloucester Way, said: "They need to dispose of people's rubbish. Not many people drive around here, so it's difficult to get to the local dump and Breckland charge quite a bit of money for collection people, so they just dump it.

Chris Baldwin, 42, who lives on the estate, said: "There isn't anything to do on the estate for anybody. The younger generations hang about causing trouble, because there is nothing for them to do."

Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.

Amy Stone, 31, who has lived on the estate her whole life, said: "I like it here but we need an area for kids to play. The kids need something to do because right now they have sod all, there are big enough green spaces for the council to do that."

Gemma Taylor, 50, of Gloucester Way, said: "We need bigger speed bumps on Gloucester Way, they have tiny things in place but cars still come speeding down there. Speeding is definitely an issue around this estate."

History of the Abbey Estate

Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.Thetford's Abbey estate. Pic: Emily Thomson.

The Abbey Estate was one of the biggest single expansion projects in Norfolk's history - changing the face of the market town of Thetford.

During the late 1950s, Thetford signed up to the Town Expansion Scheme, which would see thousands of people move up from London.

Three housing estates were developed, Redcastle Furze, Barnham Cross and what was originally known as the Abbey Farm Estate.

The Abbey Farm estate, later renamed the Abbey Estate, was the last of the three to be built, on what was previously a 1,000 acre farm.

Construction started in 1967 and the estate now provides homes for 1,178 households, with more than half of them (670) owned and managed by Flagship Housing.

Between 1957 and 1974, around 3,000 new homes were built in Thetford, with the town's population swelling from 4,500 to 17,000 people, as major companies such as Thermos and Jeyes moved in.

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