Campaigners fear increase in homes on woodland site

Campaigners have voiced concerns that plans to build 630 new homes on woodland on the outskirts of Norwich could be increased to as many as 800.

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands fear that an increase in proposed development on the Belmore, Racecourse and Brown's Plantations in Thorpe St Andrew would destroy valuable habitats and say that that it represents an unacceptable amount of homes for the area.

But one of the landowners behind the scheme says that it is still the intention to create a 'large woodland amenity', but the local need for affordable housing also has to be taken into account.

A spokeswoman for the Friends said there was strong opposition to the original plan for 631 homes, a number that was derived at following a planning and design process which aimed to engage the local community in any proposed development right from the start.

She said: 'The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, whose membership includes several hundred local residents and district councillors, are very concerned that the Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust has indicated a desire to expand its development scheme from 630 to a possible 800 houses.

'The original number would have destroyed virtually all of the best habitat, but a 27pc increase would mean destruction on an even greater scale, wherever the additional houses are located.'

The Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, one of the landowners, has made submissions ahead of a planning inquiry which starts next week to discuss the Greater Norwich Development Partnership's blueprint for future development in and around the city. The submissions say the site is suitable for the building of 'circa 700-800 homes'.

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Justin Baker, a trustee of the Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, said the original scheme drawn up by designers DPZ was for more than 50pc of the land to be woodland and parkland, which would be managed for public enjoyment.

He said: 'The trust has been advised that the very low density of the footprint drawn by DPZ with large house sizes is not necessarily what the local market needs, which is looking for a sizeable affordable housing provision.

'The figures mentioned in the representation indicate the maximum that a site of this size in this location could accommodate. The ultimate number would be subject to discussion with the planning authority on the best mix of house types, sizes and densities to meet local needs.'

Do you have a story about Thorpe St Andrew? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email