'Working for the conservation and preservation of Thorpe's woodlands as a haven for wildlife and a green space for the local community'.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year

This Christmas marks three and a half years since the Friends were formed. In that time we have fought to save Thorpe Woods from plans that would destroy them. Over this Christmas many of us will probably find time to visit the woods, perhaps walking in them with friends and family, or simply going for a walk to wear off the Turkey and Christmas pudding. It is at times like these that Thorpe Woods really come into their own as a greenspace in which we can find some peace and quiet and recharge our batteries.

Next year will be a key year for the woods as in May or June we expect Broadland District Council to announce their conclusions as to where they believe development should take place within the Growth Triangle. Hopefully they will have listened to the 2440 people who took time to respond to their consultation and stated clearly that they oppose any development within the woods.

Socially Concious Capital, the latest agents for the owners, have in the last two months come forward with plans which they argue will provide a mini Thetford Forest for the people of Thorpe. Once again their plans don't bear close scrutiny. They argue that they will need to build over a large percentage of the woods to allow them to pay for the management of whatever remains. They claim that the relic of the woods that might remain will be preserved by a trust but aren't willing to say who will form the trust or own it. They say that they have no housing numbers in mind but when pushed admit that the area could hold upto 700 houses. This option is not only opposed by us but also by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB, CPRE and Natural England.

There is an alternative though, one that the the owners themselves have admitted and one that could work. This is to preserve all 200 acres of this County Wildlife Site and manage it as a proper commercial woodland. This would allow the owners to make a healthy profit from coppicing, felling (all trees felled would by law have to be replanted)and recreation. All of these practices could be carried out in a manner that would protect wildlife and allow public access. This is an option supported by the Friends and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Currently Thorpe St Andrew Town Council is carrying out a survey of local peoples views about the area as part of their preparation of a new town plan:see here. One of their questions is "Are you in favour of potential residential development in ThorpeWoodlands" in response one of our members has written the following,it probably sums up how many of us think:

I understand the above requires responses from the public re the destruction of Thorpe Woodlands, that is Racecourse, Belmore and Browns Plantations.

As I live adjacent to the woods I feel I have much to lose from any development in this woodland. I awake to the changes it delivers every day. Today the freezing fog has diminished and the rays of sunlight are making the ground steam, last week the wind was throwing big branches in all directions and tomorrow will be different again. I have been witness to a wide range of flora and fauna from stags to squirrels and fungi that defies belief. The woodland is an irreplaceable part of this area and supports such diversity, to ruin it with development would be a travesty and a tragedy. Once it’s gone, it’s gone....................forever

I understand the owners want to develop to make the most money and I don’t blame them. However this woodland could be profitable with replanting and felling as it has in the past. I would like to see the timing of felling chosen to disrupt as little of the wildlife as possible and certain areas protected due to their uniqueness. In other words, responsible practices.

Alternatively if this woodland could become accessible to the public that would be the best option, I do not know how this could be achieved but am aware there is strong opposition locally to any development as I’m sure the council is. Many of us have campaigned to make the neighbourhood aware of the possibilities, having been through the “charette” process and attended many meetings, nothing has changed my mind including the latest bid by SCC to “enlighten” us hicks. The SCC presentation was very poorly put together with minimal information available which allowed them to show “plans” with no numbers (of houses) or roads. Plans look a lot prettier without roads and numbers on and I feel they misled many visitors with that and their charm offensive. None of the team has any local connection and their local knowledge was sketchy at best with local ponds ignored on their diagrams and their inability to properly converse about the woodland, its access points and general information was limited and disappointing.

No doubt next year will bring further challenges for Thorpe Woods and the people who love them, but it also offers the hope of saving them for future generations to enjoy so that they to will be able to walk through these beautiful woods at Christmas with their families and enjoy the woods and wildlife that we treasure so much.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Socially Conscious Capital promotes another unwanted housing development in the face of local opposition

Only 10 days after trying to convince Thorpe St Andrew residents that it wishes to protect a much loved local woodland by building several hundred houses over it Socially Conscious Capital (SCC) has turned its gaze on a small Scottish village. Rock Feilding Mellen, who in addition to running SCC is the son of the Earl of Wemyss and March, has been promoting his father plans to build several hundred house on the family estate against the wishes of local villagers
The Edinburgh Evening News reported on the 19th November that:

“VILLAGERS up in arms at plans to build hundreds of homes on their doorstep claim they were delivered an astonishing snub by an aristocratic developer.

Residents in Longniddry say their concerns about proposals for farmland owned by the Earl of Wemyss and March on the edge of the village are being ignored.And they say that when the plans were criticised at a public meeting attended by about 300 people, the earl’s stepson, Rock Fielding, who is a Tory councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, told them: “The estate will not be dictated to by the village.””

The estate will not be dictated to by the village.” So says Socially Superior Capitalist Rock Fielding Mellen.

Rock has even resorted to the use of the now notorious Charette with the paper reporting that “An intensive three-day consultation session or “charette” was held on the plans last week – but villagers claim only two or three people attended on two of the days and about a dozen on the third because most people were at work during the day”.

It all sounds very familiar and once again underlines why Socially Conscious Capital’s proposals for an “arcadian development” over much of Thorpe Woods should be seen for what it is, an attempt to make a quick buck against the wishes of local residents and at the cost of a much loved County Wildlife Site.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Latest Plans to Build on Thorpe Woods are Nothing New

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands oppose Socially Conscious Capital's latest plans for the development of Thorpe Woods.

Only 5 months ago Broadland District Council held a public consultation which asked if people supported any development of the woods. This resulted in the largest response ever received with over 2440 people writing in to oppose any development. They were joined by the RSPB, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, CPRE and Natural England all of whom called for the woods to be saved in their entirety.

Last week the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission told the Friends that in their view it would be entirely possible for the owners of the woods to allow public access and enhance their wildlife value whilst carrying out commercial felling and coppicing. Examples of this include Foxley and Bacton Woods.

The Friends of Thorpe Woods view the current proposals to develop Thorpe Woods as a PR offensive and in essence they are only recycling plans that have been rejected by the council and local people in the past. The latest approach tries to both bribe and threaten local people but in truth their supposed “creation of the new community woodland” should be viewed as a Trojan Horse. If any houses were given planning permission, it would leave the flood gates open to the land being sold for mass development. It is nonsense to argue that the best way of saving this woodland is to build 700 houses over it, a figure proposed by Socially Conscious Capital at a council meeting only last month. Any level of development would do immense damage to the woods as a whole, a fact supported by a recent Norfolk Wildlife Trust survey which shows that the biodiversity value of the woods is continuing to increase with species such as Great Crested Newts, White Admiral Butterflies, Adders and Glow-worms.

Thorpe Woods are a much loved sanctuary for wildlife that has been enjoyed by many generations. Now more than ever they should be protected so that Norwich continues to be a beautiful place in which to live.

County Councillor for Thorpe St Andrew, Ian Mackie, said "Any plans for housing on this area of immense ecological value will be of real concern to many local residents and is premature.I see little need for this scheme and the plans for an independent trust appears to have little detail behind it, such as who would run it and who could afford to manage a 125 acres of woodland in perpetuity? I've opposed development on this site for 10 years and don't see anything new on offer."

Answering Socially Conscious Capital's misleading assertions

SCC claim- Woodland undeveloped would become an "isolated island of green"
Broadland planning's view- "Thorpe Woodlands is identified as an area of Core Habitat within the Green Infrastructure Study and Delivery Plan and its loss may have significant implications for the achievability of this delivery plan."

SCC claim - Housing would be on the least sensitive area.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust- "Even part development is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the CWS and there would be a need to compensate both for the loss of woodland and for recreational impacts of new housing on the remaining wood."

SCC claim - Not Ancient woodland
In response to the designation of 30 acres of Thorpe Woods as Ancient Woodland the owners commissioned their own expert. This expert found all the important indicator species in the woods but chose not to regard that as evidence of it being Ancient Woodland. Subsequently the owners have sought to diminish the biodiversity value of the woods, however even their own report whilst refuting the Ancient Woodland status does state that the woods contain valuable remnants of wet woodland heath habitat worthy of restoration and protection.

SCC claim- Our plans would give the public what they asked for in the consultation
2444 people responded to the consultation questions 23 and 24 on the future of Thorpe Woodlands, The largest response ever received by Broadland on a single issue. 99% of those responses were opposed to any development of the wood.

SCC claim- No fixed housing numbers at this stage and no extra traffic generation
At the recent Plumstead meeting the figure of 500-700! higher end properties was let slip by Rock Fielding, (The 2010 plan for 630 houses reduced Racecourse CWS, the bulk of Thorpe Woodlands and it's ecological value to a woodland border) Later that year the landowner attempted to push the figure to 800.

SCC claim- Minimum 125 acres of "family friendly" areas
We already have 200 acres of woodland which provide good public access including significant areas of Racecourse, this balanced with an exceptionally valuable site for wildlife and continuity of a mosaic of habitats, including heath, wood pasture and woodland existing over a very long period of time. Norfolk Wildlife Trust believe more public access is possible while maintaining the biodiversity value but even building in part would have significant adverse effects.

SCC claim- Managing and felling would prohibit public access to Thorpe Woods
In response to this The Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Forestry commission have said ""public access is compatible with woodland management. I need only cite the entire Public Forest Estate of England, some 214,000ha managed by the Forestry Commission, which has public access throughout. Public access is only limited when harvesting operations are underway, and then only the felling area is closed to the public, being marked off with warning tape and public notices. As soon as the felled coupe is made safe that work area is again open to the public." Examples of where the Trust also allows public access whilst undertaking felling include Marsham, Buxton, Holt, Cawston and Foxley Wood,

Monday, 28 October 2013

Local people and councillors protest at closed meeting to promote the development of Thorpe Woods

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands together with a number of local councillors have stated their opposition to an invitation only meeting that has been organised by the owners of the woods.

Socially Conscious Capital and Turley Associates, agents for the owners of the wood Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, have invited a picked audience to attend a presentation in which they will set out their plans to develop the woods. It is understood that the proposals will include building up to 700 houses on the site. Local Councillors Ian Mackie, Nigel Shaw and Stephen Freeman – Pannett have said that they oppose an invitation only meeting, especially when open meetings have been held elsewhere. Councillor Ian Mackie said that the meeting could leave those who attend the meeting open to the charge of “holding restricted and less than transparent practices”.

Friends of Thorpe Woodlands feel that the meeting could be a PR exercise designed to side step the local planning process, the growing environmental case for preserving the woodlands, and the overwhelming public opposition to any building on Thorpe Woodlands. This being most clearly expressed in the recent Broadland District Council Consultation which asked local people for their views on where within the Growth Triangle they thought future housing development should be sited. Questions 23 and 24 of that consultation asked if people supported the development of Thorpe Woods, in response the council received 2440 replies from local people and bodies such as the RSPB, The Woodland Trust, Natural England, CPRE and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, these responses opposed any development of Thorpe Woods. This response was one of the largest ever received by the council on a single issue.

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands would welcome a council chaired public meeting to discuss the future of Thorpe Woods but will not support, or play any part in, a private meeting that is being organised to promote the development of housing on the site of the woods.

The Friends continue to oppose any plans that threaten this unique and much loved green space and call upon the council to respect the views expressed by local people in response to their own consultation.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Outstanding response to Council Consultation - 80% of responses call for Thorpe Woods to be saved from development.

Broadland District Council’s Growth Triangle Area Action Plan - Options Consultation was launched on the 18th March and ran for 3 months. The consultation sought the views of local people and organisations upon where within the growth triangle the council should permit development.

Questions 23 and 24 related to the local woodland called Thorpe woods, they asked:

Question 23: Thorpe Woodlands

Are you of the opinion that that Racecourse Plantation and/or Belmore and Brown's plantation are suitable for residential development as part of an extended Core Development Area CA1? Yes/No

Alternatively, do you think that some or all of Thorpe Woodlands would be well suited to becoming a publicly accessible woodland? Yes/No.

Please explain the reasons for your answers.

Question 24: Salhouse Road to Plumstead Road Orbital Link

Do you consider that the link should be open to all traffic but designed to minimise traffic speeds or should it be restricted to public transport, walking and cycling? Do you have a view on restricting traffic from certain directions?

Are there any other route options for the link road which should be considered?

In response to question twenty three the council received 1664 responses and for question twenty three 784 responses.

Of these responses only three failed to call for the protection of Thorpe, two of these were submitted by the owners of the woods and their agents.

The consultation as a whole received 2854 responses covering the whole of the growth triangle, of these over 2445 called for the protection of the woods.

Due to the number of responses opposing the development of the woods Broadland District council were still counting and recording them more than three weeks after the consultation had closed.

The responses calling for the protection of the woods amounted to nearly 85% of all the responses to the consultation and clearly show the council that local people in large numbers are strongly opposed to any development.

Broadlands planning department stated that the 2445 replies represented the highest response they had received in relation to a single issue.

Bodies such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Norwich Society and the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands all submitted responses which opposed any development and called for the woods to be preserved as a green space for people and wildlife.

Monday, 3 June 2013

One week left to say NO to the Destruction of Thorpe Woods

You only have until the 10th of June to make clear that you want Thorpe Woods saved from the Developers.

Only today we have heard that the owners have contacted the council to inform them that they will be making an application to build housing on the woods within the next few weeks.

YOU can save this beautiful english woodland by emailing Broadland District Council at the following address:

In your email please state that you are responding to the Growth Triangle Area Action Plan Consultation and answer whether: 

1. You think Thorpe Woodlands are suitable for residential development? 
2. You think they are suitable to become publicly accessible woodland? 
In email heading be sure to state 'Consultation response to Thorpe Woodlands Question 23 

Include strong reasons if possible (and there are plenty in this case) they will add weight to your vote.
And remember to include your Name and Address 

The owners are aware that large numbers of local people, councillors and conservation groups are opposed to their plans. With your help we can strengthen this oppostion even further.

 Please email today.
Thank you

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Friends of Thorpe Woodlands Press Release:

Local Wildlife Groups and MP call for the protection of Norwich Woodland after discovery of rare Great Crested Newts

The Friends of Thorpe Woodlands are pleased to make an exciting announcement concerning the discovery of a rare species in this threatened woodland.
Over the last two months the Friends together with groups such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Norfolk Amphibian & Reptile Group have identified and monitored a small population of Great Crested Newts in the eastern area of the woodland.
Local MP Chloe Smith together with local councillors’ residents and members of the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands will be announced the good news at Thorpe Woods on the 27th April. They called for the woods to be saved from development and preserved as a green space for local people.
Site threatened by development and possible link road
The area of the wood in which the Great Crested Newt population has been discovered falls directly in the path of one of the possible routes being considered by Broadland District Council for a link road between Salhouse Road and Plumstead Road. 
In addition to calling for the protection of the woods in their entirety The Friends together with local politicians are calling for the alternate route to be selected which would run to the east of the woods thus avoiding any damage (for your chance to say NO to this development please see below).
Norfolk Amphibian & Reptile Group & Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Philip Parker of the Norfolk Amphibian & Reptile Group together with Helen Baczkowska of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust have positively identified Great Crested Newts on the site. Helen Baczkowska said that this site “must not be built upon” and “Finding Great Crested Newts at Thorpe Woods is exciting indeed. Newts rely on good habitats on land as well as in ponds, so this helps to demonstrate that Thorpe Woods are an outstanding place for wildlife and deserve to be protected and managed as such. Norwich is so lucky to have such a remarkable place just outside the city and it should remain so, for the wild species that live there and for the people who enjoy the quiet and wildness of the place.”
Over the last 2 and a half years the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, a local group made up of several hundred local residents,  and conservation bodies such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, CPRE, and Woodland Trust have been campaigning to save the woods from destruction. The owners of the woods are seeking to build an 800 house development on the site of the woods. Broadland District Council is currently conducting a consultation, which ends on the 10th June, which asks whether the woods should be considered for development or should be preserved as publically accessible woodland.
 Great Crested Newt Conservation status
Great crested newts are fully protected under UK and European legislation:
• Bern Convention 1979: Appendix III 
• Wildlife & Countryside Act (as Amended) 1981: Schedule 5 
• EC Habitats Directive 1992: Annex II and IV 
• Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994: Schedule 2 
• Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW 2000)
Because great crested newts are listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, Section 9(1) of the Act makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take great crested newts. Section 9(2) makes it an offence to possess or control a live or dead great crested newt or any part or thing derived from them. Section 9(4) makes it an offence to intentionally damage, destroy, obstruct access to, any structure or place which great crested newts use for shelter or protection. It is also an offence to intentionally disturb them while occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose. Section 9(5) makes it an offence to sell, offer or expose for sale, or possess or transport for the purpose of sale, any live or dead great crested newt or any part or thing derived from them. It is also an offence to publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that great crested newts, or parts or derived things of them are bought, sold or are intended to be. Section 9 applies to all stages in their life cycle.
Their inclusion on Schedule 2 of the Conservation Regulations 1994 affords great crested newts extra protection by also making it an offence under Regulation 39(1) to deliberately capture, kill or disturb great crested newts or to deliberately take or destroy their eggs, or damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place. Regulation 39(2) makes it an offence to keep, or transport, or exchange great crested newts or any part or thing derived from them. Paragraphs 39(1) and 39(2) apply to all stages of their life cycle.
This level of legal protection allows areas to be designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and/or Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) for the presence of great crested newts. These designations bring legal restrictions to the management and operations that can occur in such sites, to help conserve the great crested newt and the specific habitats it requires.
The maximum fine on conviction of offences is currently £5,000. The CRoW Act amended the 1981 Act to allow for a custodial sentence of up to six months instead of, or in addition to, a fine. Fines may be imposed in relation to each offence committed, so operations involving many animals or repeated offences can potentially accrue large fines. In addition, items or equipment, which may constitute evidence of the commission of an offence, may be seized and detained. The CRoW Act also amends the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to render Section 9 offences ‘arrestable’, giving the police significant additional powers.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Act Now to Save Thorpe Woods

For two and a half years we have been campaigning to stop the owners of Thorpe Woods from destroying this much loved green space.
Over the next few weeks the council will be asking local people, as part of a general consultation on where new housing should go, whether they think Thorpe woods should be preserved as a green space and whether a link road should or shouldn’t be built through them.

Thorpe Woodlands – Housing Estate or Public Park?

The first question asks whether you think Thorpe woods is suitable for development or whether it should become a publicly accessible woodland (please click on links provided at the bottom of this post to go and make your own comments) :
Are you of the opinion that that Racecourse Plantation and/or Belmore and Brown's plantation are suitable for residential development as part of an extended Core Development Area CA1? Yes/No
Alternatively, do you think that some or all of Thorpe Woodlands would be well suited to becoming a publicly accessible woodland? Yes/No.
Please explain the reasons for your answers.

Orbital Link Road – through Thorpe Woods or not?

The second question addresses the issue of the proposed orbital link road between Salhouse Road and Plumstead Road.
One of the options is for the link road to be built through Thorpe Woods which is shown as Route 2 (the Western Route) on the map below.
If a road has to be built we would prefer Route 1 (the Eastern Route) which would do less damage to the woods:
Do you prefer the eastern or western link road route between Salhouse Road and Plumstead Road? Eastern/Western
Do you consider that the link should be open to all traffic but designed to minimise traffic speeds or should it be restricted to public transport, walking and cycling? Do you have a view on restricting traffic from certain directions?
Are there any other route options for the link road which should be considered?

From the 18th March you will have 12 weeks to answer the above questions

and make clear that you want Thorpe Woods to be protected as a publicly accessible woodland and that you oppose the Western Route for the Orbital Link Road.
To answer the above questions simply click
on the following links and add your comments.

Question 23: Thorpe Woodlands

Question 24: Salhouse Road to Plumstead Road Orbital Link

Alternately you can print off the following response form, complete it and return it to Broadland District Council or you can email your answers, setting out in your email that you are responding to question 23 of the Area Action Plan Options Consultation, the email address is ldf@broadland.gov.uk.

By acting NOW you can SAVE Thorpe Woods

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Thorpe Woods Consultation - What to Expect

We have just received further details from Broadland District Council which explain in greater detail the form the consultation will take when it commences on the 18th March:

The consultation itself will be publicised in a number of ways. The spring edition of Broadland News, which goes to every household in Broadland will carry a double page article about the consultation and how to respond, we will notify by email/letter all those members of the public who have registered interest in receiving information about the AAP, we will be publicising through our website and through parish magazines/newsletters in the area, and we will be submitting a press release to the EDP/Evening News.

We intend to run three types of public events in support of this consultation: a series of 3 workshops, similar to those in 2011, but focussing on the consultation document; a series of drop in sessions where the public can come and talk to an officer about the consultation; and, static displays at the Sprowston, Thorpe and Old Catton town/parish council offices. Our intention is that the static displays will be unstaffed on non-drop in session days but will still be open to the public. The workshops will be help in Thorpe End, Sprowston and Rackheath. The drop in sessions will be in Thorpe, Sprowston, Old Catton & Rackheath.

Hard copies of the consultation documents will be available to view either at Broadland’s offices, at the static display sites or at the libraries around the district. Digital copies will be available either through the Council’s website or via our online consultation website. We would not as a matter of course send out hard copy materials. As you can appreciate this would be very costly. However, in exceptional circumstances, where someone genuinely cannot access the consultation material in one of the aforementioned ways, we will provide a CD of the documents or a hard copy of the documents themselves.

The public can respond directly to the consultation in one of two main ways: either through the online consultation website or by letter/e-mail, to which end hard copy response forms will be available either at the static display sites, libraries or can be downloaded through Broadland’s website. 

If you have any questions concerning the consultation or would like to help with leafleting etc. once it has started please contact the Friends at the following email:-lornacbeckett@yahoo.co.uk.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Woods Consultation Update – Consultation to be published 18th March

The Broadland District Council consultation which will decide the fate of Thorpe Woods for the next 15 to 20 years will be released on the 18th March.


As can be seen from the following detail taken from the consultation the woods have been identified as area which may be suitable for development or retention as an open space.

The consultation will run for a period of 12 weeks and during that time you will have the chance to make clear that you want the woods to be saved from development and preserved as a greenspace for future generations.

As soon as the consultation is published we will be contacting everybody who has been in contact with us ,including exisiting members of the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, to explain how they can respond to the consultation.

If you would like to help or would like to join the Friends please contact us at the following email address:


You will soon have a chance to make a difference and save these wonderful woods  from the threat of destruction. 

Please watch this space for more information.