Company behind Thorpe Woods development seeks to allay housing number fears

Thorpe woods. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Thorpe woods. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The company behind a controversial woodland development insists the scheme will not exceed 300 homes.

Jason Beckett, treasurer for The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Jason Beckett, treasurer for The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) won an appeal in January to build the properties on Racecourse Plantation in Thorpe St Andrew.

It has led to concerns the company will now come back with a new application to build more houses to fund a proposed community woodland.

Jason Beckett, treasurer for the Friends of the Thorpe Woodlands campaign, said: "We don't believe that the developer's proposals to build 300 houses, to support the creation of a so-called community woodland, are viable and that they may try to argue that they need to build additional houses to fund their proposal."

However, a spokesperson for SCC has sought to allay the group's fears, stating: "We have no plans to build more than 300 homes.

Thorpe Woods. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Thorpe Woods. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

"The community woodland is viable and this was confirmed at the appeal inquiry and endorsed by the inspector's decision to grant planning permission.

"The permitted 300 homes are sufficient to fund the community woodland."

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The spokesperson said it could take up to five years to build the homes, adding that detailed designs for the scheme need to be submitted by January 30, 2022.

However, the spokesperson said the company intends to proceed "well before" the 2022 date.

The development was fiercely opposed by local campaigners and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) before being refused permission by Broadland District Council in 2017.

But a planning inspector this year decided the development could go ahead, claiming it would not cause an adverse impact to the well-being of the area's biodiversity.

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.

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