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Wait for decision on Thorpe woodlands planning appeal could drag on another four months

PUBLISHED: 16:30 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:30 25 September 2018

Jason Beckett, treasurer for The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, in Thorpe woods which are under threat from housing development.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Jason Beckett, treasurer for The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, in Thorpe woods which are under threat from housing development. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Campaigners, developers and councillors have been told they may have to wait until 2019 to discover the fate of a woodland site near Norwich - having already sweated on it for four months.

Autumn in Racecourse Plantation in Thorpe St Andrew.
Photo by Simon FinlayAutumn in Racecourse Plantation in Thorpe St Andrew. Photo by Simon Finlay

An inquiry around refused plans for up to 300 homes on Racecourse Plantations in Thorpe St Andrew was held at the end of May, with both the developers and Broadland District Council giving evidence across six days.

However, four months later no decision over the appeal has been made, with the planning inspectorate saying it may be another four until one has been reached.

A spokesman for the planning inspectorate said this was due to the introduction of new planning policy, which came into effect over the summer - two months after the hearing.

The spokesman said: “The date for the decision was changed to allow for parties to the appeal time to comment on the revised national planning policy framework (NPPF), which came into effect on July 24, 2018.

“The inspector must consider the comments submitted before making a decision and because of other scheduled hearings and inquiries the date for the decision has changed to January 14, 2019.

“The inspector will endeavour to make a decision before this date if possible.”

The appeal was lodged by London-based homebuilder Socially Conscious Capital, after Broadland refused a bid to build homes on the woodland site in June 2017.

The woodland site has been subject to a variety of different planning applications over the years, with a campaign group called The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands formed in 2012 in a bid to protect it.

Jason Beckett, treasurer of the group, said: “Obviously the delay is frustrating and we are all on tenterhooks, but if we end up with the outcome we are all hoping for it will be worth the wait.

“All of the Friends are keen for a quick outcome, but most importantly, the one we feel is right and best reflects the views of the council and the vast majority of local people.”

A spokesman for Broadland Council echoed the frustration, but said the council appreciated the process could sometimes be a long-winded one.

Socially Conscious Capital was approached for comment, but did not respond.

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