Controversy reignited over 300 home scheme on edge of Norwich

Plumstead Road East in Thorpe St Andrew

Plans for 300 homes at Plumstead Road East in Thorpe St Andrew. - Credit: Hill

Controversy over plans for 300 homes on woodland on the edge of Norwich has been reignited - as developers get ready to seek permission for how the scheme would look.

There had been fierce opposition over plans for homes off Plumstead Road East in Thorpe St Andrew, which led to Broadland District Council rejecting them four years ago.

But permission was granted on appeal and housebuilder Hill is ready to lodge proposals for detailed specifics of the housing and community woodland at Thorpe Woods.

Thorpe woods which are under threat from housing development.

Thorpe Woods. - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The developer says it will see up to 300 "new, high quality, well-designed, sustainable homes" built - a third of them classified as affordable homes.

Proposals also include a community woodland park, which Hills has said will be "maintained in perpetuity".

Public open space, including mini football pitches for under eights, children’s play equipment and allotments are also proposed.

And the developer has pledged contributions to public open space in the local area, along with the creation of two bus stops and a shared cycleway and footway along Plumstead Road East.

Hill, which has sent 7,000 fliers out to people in the area, is holding a public drop in event where people can discuss the proposal.

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But concerns over the impact of hundreds more homes in the area persist, with fears over how schools and GPs will cope.

One householder who lives on Plumstead Road East, said: "I appreciate the need for housing, but Thorpe St Andrew has plenty of brownfield sites, such as Pinebanks and St Andrew's Hospital, so why destroy woodland for property development?

"A woodland that is enjoyed by hundreds of families, children and dog walkers, and was essential to the mental health of many throughout lockdown.

Thorpe Woods proposed housing area.

Thorpe Woods. - Credit: Mike Page

"My main concern is the pressure on the surrounding services and infrastructure this development will bring.

"This area is already bursting at the seams and that was before the development at White House Farm was completed.

"Local schools are already over-subscribed, the GP surgery is under extreme pressure and it's nigh-on impossible to book an appointment."

County councillor Ian Mackie 

County councillor Ian Mackie - Credit: Submitted

Ian Mackie, who represents Thorpe St Andrew at Norfolk County Council and Thorpe St Andrew North West on Broadland District Council said: "Campaigners, like myself, worked together and fought hard for many years to preserve this natural wildlife area.

"Regrettably, the planning inspector overturned local planners and gave planning permission, however on a much smaller area than requested."

The Conservative councillor added: "The aim now is to make this development work for the community and maintain as much natural wildlife habitat as possible."

He fears natural woodland would be destroyed and replaced with a "semi-natural wood-chipped theme-park environment" and feared the impact of further homes on already full schools and GP surgeries.

He said: "I urge as many residents as possible to make their views know at the public consultation. We may not be able to stop the development, but as a community we can influence the final outcome.”

John Fisher Pic: Norfolk County Council.

John Fisher Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

John Fisher, who represents Woodside on Norfolk County Council and Thorpe St Andrew North West on Broadland District Council said: "The willingness of Hill to open a consultation on their proposals is very welcome and I encourage local residents to look at the proposals and make comment."

The Conservative councillor added: "I sat through the whole enquiry and made representations to the inspector objecting to any development.

"We now have to ensure that the development of 300 units to the north of Plumstead Road in Racecourse Woods, has minimal impact on the remaining woodland and the proposals for public community woodland to the south of Plumstead Road - Belmore Woods - receive suitable funding from the developers and land owners.

"The development has permission, so all input needs to be in achieving the best outcome for Thorpe St Andrew, not objecting to it."

The public exhibition will be held at Dussindale Community Centre, in Pound Lane, from 4pm until 8pm on Wednesday (September 29).

History of the site

Protesters outside the public exhibition held at the Dussindale Centre on proposed ideas for the fut

Protesters outside the public exhibition held at the Dussindale Centre on proposed ideas for the future of Thorpe Woods. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Proposals for homes at the site go back more than a decade, when a consortium of landowners launched a consultation on proposals to build between 630 and 800 houses on land including the Racecourse Plantation.

When plans were eventually lodged in 2016, it was for 300 homes, but there was widespread opposition from campaigners, local councillors and the county’s wildlife trust over the loss of woodland.

The following year, Broadland District Council rejected the proposals, but that decision was overturned in January 2019 at an appeal lodged by developer Socially Conscious Capital.

Inspector Frances Mahoney ruled the development would not have an adverse impact on biodiversity, so outline permission was granted.

The forthcoming application, known as a reserved matters application, seeks permission for the layout, appearance and landscaping of the development.