For over two years the Friends have been working closely with three local councillors who have supported the campaign to save Thorpe woods from development.
Ian Mackie, Nigel Shaw and John Fisher have met us on a number of occasions and even took part in the public demonstration through the woods in August 2010 to demonstrate their opposition to the owners proposals to build 800 homes on Belmore, Browns and Racecourse Plantation.
The fate of the woods is largely dependent on the status they are given within the Joint Core Strategy. In the next few months Broadland District Council will hold a public consultation on where new housing should go, it is vital that the council recognise Thorpe Woods as a green space that must be preserved and therefore exclude it from the areas opened up for development.
Last week the council held an Extraordinary Council Meeting to discuss the options for the location of future development. The options were Alternative 1 which would allow development both inside and outside the route of the future Northern Distributor Road (NDR) or Alternative 2 which would concentrate all development within the NDR.
As the woods fall within the NDR Alternative 2 would have placed more pressure on them.
Councillors Mackie and Shaw asked Broadland District Council Leader, Andrew Proctor, the following question:
I am opposed to development on the Thorpe Woodlands. Therefore, could the Leader explain why choosing Alternative 1 for pre-submission would be the most appropriate in order to best defend the Thorpe Woodlands from development?
Andrew Proctor answered:
It's fair to say that we all want to see the best development in the best place for the future and as part of that ensure that our key environmental assets are protected.
Alternative 2 would intensify pressures on the environmental assets either through direct pressure for development or trespass/disturbance; that the potential to link environmental assets into strategic green corridors may be compromised; and it would be likely to require land not currently being promoted for development.
That makes Alternative 1 the most viable route to see the best development in the best place for the future.
In response they asked:
Are the Thorpe Woodlands considered to be one of our key environmental assets?
Andrew Proctor answered:
It is positive to hear that the council recognises Thorpe Woods as a key environmental asset however the owners, Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust are continuing to lobby for the woods to be considered as a potential site for development.
In fact, it appears that they are working with a new developer called Socially Conscious Capital, a company that specialises in developing sites “with problems and obstacles or sites which have a history of unsuccessful promotion”. The company is headed by Rock Feilding, a friend of Gail Mayhew, who spends most of his time in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
The company uses many of the same soft words and phrases used by the owners first choice of developer, the American Andres Duany of DPZ (if you attended the Charrettes held two years ago you will be familiar with this approach) in essence this involves using words such as sustainable, community, environment, legacy in an attempt distract you from the inescapable fact they want to destroy a 200 acre woodland.
We will keep you informed on any further developments we here about, and please do let us know if you hear of anything that you think may be important.