New homes plan on woodland will cause 'irreversible' damage, locals warn

Plans for 300 homes at Plumstead Road East in Thorpe St Andrew.

Plans for the new Racecourse Plantation development in Plumstead Road East have been put forward to Broadland District Council - Credit: Hill

With stacks of homes planned to go up across the city, warnings have been raised that green space has never been more vital.

But despite opposition from local folk and councils a reserved matters application for 239 homes from Hill Residential to build on a woodland has now been put forward to Broadland District Council.

Ian Mackie, district councillor for Thorpe St Andrew, is opposed to the "historically and environmentally-important woodland" off Plumstead Road East being built on.

A Community Woodland Park (CWP) with associated infrastructure would be included in the Racecourse Plantation development, the developer has said.

According to a planning statement the developer would "deliver much-needed affordable housing, the creation of a new community woodland and the payment of a contribution to improve off site sports facilities".

It added that such grounds will be "maintained in perpetuity".

The green spaces would include mini football pitches for children aged under eight, play areas and allotments.

Ian Mackie. Pic: Submitted.

Thorpe St Andrew district councillor Ian Mackie - Credit: Submitted

But Mr Mackie argued: "These wooded areas are the vital green lungs between new developments. Everybody knows there is pressure to build as the population grows but it has got to be done sustainably."

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He said there were areas in Brook Farm, near Dussindale, and Sprowston and Rackheath as well as brownfield sites that were more appropriate for development.

The councillor added: "These green spaces are critical in these areas of Norwich that are experiencing growth. It is essential as much natural habitat remains for future generations."

Plans for up to 300 homes on the land were refused by Broadland in June 2017 because of fears over its effect on wildlife.

An appeal was lodged and permission was granted by the planning inspector in January 2019 because the woodland park would "maximise opportunities for the creation of a well managed network of wildlife habitats".

Mr Mackie said people did not want a "sanitised" version of countryside through the proposed woodland.

He added: "The community is still shocked that planning permission was given for building on this area of ecological wealth. The impact is going to be irreversible."

A spokeswoman for Hill said: “We are looking forward to the prospect of delivering a unique development in a woodland setting in addition to providing a publicly accessible community woodland park managed for nature conservation and recreation.”