Wildlife trust critical of proposals for development on woodland

Thorpe woods which are under threat from housing development.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Thorpe woods which are under threat from housing development.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has criticised claims made by developers looking to build on an area of woodland, near Norwich.

Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) has outlined plans for up to 300 new homes on Racecourse Plantations in Thorpe St Andrew.

But the wildlife trust has spoken out at against claims made in promotional material from the developer.

The trust said: 'On their website SCC state that Racecourse Plantation is in the Northeast Norwich Growth Triangle, but neglect to mention that its inclusion is because it is an area to be protected from development, rather than suitable for it.

'This is because it is a County Wildlife Site and because it will be surrounded by other areas along the Salhouse Road, which have already been zoned for development.'

The trust's senior conservation officer, John Hiskett, also criticised a brochure produced by the developer, which said the wildlife site status of the woodland would be protected and enhanced by its proposal.

He said: 'Describing a development that takes up 10 hectares of a 60 hectare County Wildlife Site as protecting it cannot be justified.

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'Furthermore, using the word 'enhanced' is misleading because any improvements in the remaining woodland would be necessary mitigation for loss of the 10 hectares to housing.'

However, Andrew Simpson, the project's planning consultant, said the developer stood by the statements made on its website and flyers.

'There is currently no mechanism for the woodlands to play any role within the growth triangle other than as commercial forestry plantation,' he said.

'There is, though, a stated aspiration for it to play a role in the connectivity of the growth triangle, as adjacent development sites are acknowledged to be deficient in access to informal green space.'

As part of the proposed development, SCC has promised to create a new woodland park, which would be owned by a community organisation run by local residents.

Meanwhile, a neighbouring area of woodland, known as Brown's Plantation, would be managed for nature conservation.

The trust said it would be objecting to proposals by the developer.

Members of the public will be able to view the proposals at an exhibition in Thorpe St Andrew later today and tomorrow.

It takes place from 3pm to 7pm today and 10am to 2pm tomorrow at the Dussindale Centre on Pound Lane.

For more information about the plans, visit www.racecourseplantations.co.uk