Controversial plans for 300 homes in treasured woodland given go-ahead
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
A London-based developer has today won an appeal to build 300 homes within a treasured woodland in Thorpe St Andrew.
Controversial plans for the development at Racecourse Plantation were initially refused by Broadland District Council in June 2017.
The scheme had attracted widespread opposition from campaigners, local councillors and the county's wildlife trust over the loss of woodland.
But almost a year after developer Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) appealed the refusal, a planning inspector has allowed for the scheme to go-ahead.
Inspector Frances Mahoney concluded the development would not result in an 'adverse impact' on the well-being of biodiversity in the area.
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The Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) said it was disappointed with the decision, adding it could set a 'dangerous' precedent for other developments in the future.
Meanwhile, Jason Beckett, treasurer for the campaign group The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, said it was 'not a good day for local democracy'.
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Racecourse Plantation forms part of the Thorpe Woodlands, off Plumstead Road East, and is made up of thousands of native and non-native trees.
While the land is designated as a County Wildlife Site, it is currently commercially managed for forestry.
SCC had sought permission to build the 300 homes on behalf of landowners, The Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust.
As part of the plans, the nearby Belmore Plantation would be managed for 'public recreation', while Brown's Plantation would be managed for nature conservation.
NWT conservation officer Mike Jones said: 'We are disappointed with the decision of the inspector to allow the housing development at Racecourse Plantation, a designated County Wildlife Site (CWS).
'CWS make up nearly 3pc of Norfolk's land area, and alongside nationally designated sites and nature reserves, are a vital resource for the protection of what remains of our natural world.'
Broadland District Council said: 'We are naturally disappointed by the outcome but we are sure the inspectors considered the environmental impacts at length when making their decision.'