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London-based developer appeals refusal of 300-home scheme in Thorpe Woods

PUBLISHED: 11:59 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:59 06 March 2018

Thorpe woods, off Plumstead Road East. 
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Thorpe woods, off Plumstead Road East. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

ARCHANT NORFOLK

A London-based developer is appealing the decision to refuse its plans to build 300 homes in a much-loved Norfolk woodland.

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

In June 2017, Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) was refused permission for the scheme on Racecourse Plantation in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich.

The development would have resulted in the loss of 10 hectares of woodland off Plumstead Road East.

But Broadland District Council’s planning officers turned down the application under delegated authority.

Speaking last summer, Broadland’s head of planning Phil Courtier said the scheme would have resulted in a “substantial” reduction in woodland.

While campaigners welcomed the decision, it also sparked concern about the potential for SCC to appeal.

Those fears have now been realised, with the developers lodging an appeal with the planning inspectorate.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard at a planning inquiry at 10am on May 22 this year and is estimated to take six days.

Racecourse Plantation, which forms part of Thorpe Woods off Plumstead Road East, has been used by generations of people in Thorpe St Andrew.

Campaign group Friends of Thorpe Woodlands has opposed the housing scheme since the start, stating the land should remain untouched.

But SCC said it had the support of more than 70 people and was proposing to create a 150-acre woodland park, which would be handed to the community.

It had also proposed to improve a footpath running along Plumstead Road, known locally as “The Trod”.

Speaking back in 2016, Andrew Simpson, planner for SCC, said there would be a number of “benefits” for the wider community from the development.

“The current plans are that Belmore Plantation will be managed for the provision of public recreation,” he said.

“Brown’s Plantation will be managed for nature conservation given the presence of great crested newts, and the undeveloped part of Racecourse Plantation will be managed for a mix of habitat enhancement and recreation.”

Meanwhile, Jason Beckett, spokesman for friends of Thorpe Woodlands said: “Nobody wants this to go ahead apart from the trust and that has been made clear over the past six years.”

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