Concerns remain over Thorpe woodland

Campaigners are keeping up the pressure on planners not to include areas of treasured woodland in their growth plans – despite achieving an extra level of protection last month.

Natural England announced that 32 acres of Thorpe Woods had been officially designated as ancient woodland, to the delight of the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands (FTW).

The group formed last year after a consortium of landowners launched a consultation on proposals to build between 630 and 800 houses on land including the Racecourse Plantation off Salhouse Road and Plumstead Road East.

The eastern part of that plantation has now been given enhanced protection, while the rest of it remains a County Wildlife Site.

The Thorpe Woods fall within the GNDP's growth triangle and during the next few months Broadland District Council (BDC) will decide exactly which areas should be identified as a green space within its area action plan.

John Allaway, an arboricultural consultant who played a key role in the campaign, said: 'FTW's main current concern is to ensure that BDC's public consultation, when it goes out, does not include any option for development on any of the woodland.

'BDC is under pressure from the landowners to include this option, but FTW believe that the ecological, historic, landscape, and potential future educational and recreational values of these woods are far too high to even consider losing any of them to development.

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'FTW believes that, when the 10,000 new houses are built, Thorpe Woodlands will become even more important as wildlife refuges and, hopefully, links in the 'green infrastructure' chain throughout the area.'

A spokesman for Broadland District Council said: 'Racecourse Plantation is already designated as a County Wildlife Site and an area of Landscape Value. Broadland council has always recognised just how important areas like this are when planning for the future, and its partial designation as Ancient Woodland will be another key factor to be taken into account as decisions are made about the character of development within the Growth Triangle.'