Photographs of Thorpe woodlands, their varied habitats, plantlife and wildlife all taken by friends and supporters. most taken between 2010 and 2013

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Meetings - what meetings?

Friends of Thorpe Woodlands (FTW) has now gained the enthusiastic support of at least two local councillors. Cllrs Ian Mackie and Nigel Shaw have publicly expressed their commitment to preventing the loss of any of the woodlands to development. We hope that all other Thorpe St Andrew Town councillors will come out with similar views. We must also hope that the Broadland District councillors for the area, as well as those on BDC's planning committee, will agree that these woodlands must be saved.

A somewhat concerning revelation has recently come to our attention. Ian Mackie has told us that he, and other councillors, had been led by the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust (T&FT) to believe that they could remove the woodlands whenever they wished, regardless of whether they obtained planning permission for their development scheme. This is a grave misrepresentation of the truth: no landowner can remove woodland without (a) obtaining a felling licence from the Forestry Commission and (b) obtaining planning permission from the local planning authority (BDC in this case) for change of use. The fact that T&FT apparently succeeded in convincing people - including councillors - that they could, has caused some to believe that it might be better to accept the development than oppose it and end up with no woods at all. FTW immediately informed the councillors of the true situation, but there must be several people in the area who still imagine that they could lose the woods altogether unless they agree to a fraction of them being retained as part of the development, and we must work hard to correct this misapprehension.

Thorpe St Andrew Town Council (TSATC) had intended to hold a public meeting on 23rd August at the Dussindale Centre, at which T&FT were to announce progress on their plans. However, this has now been cancelled. Steven Ford, TSATC clerk, told us that he'd decided such a meeting could pose public safety issues. Apparently, so many people contacted him when they found out about this meeting, the view was taken that far more than would fit into the room would turn up.

Slightly worryingly, TSATC has now decided to hold a private meeting on 23rd August at which Gail Mayhew of T&FT will meet with the clerk, the mayor, Cllr Barber and Cllr Shaw. The purpose of this meeting is, seemingly, to discuss the public meeting that TSATC called for on 7th July, to be held in September at Thorpe St Andrew school.

Much more worryingly, the September meeting has been thrown into confusion. At the 7th July meeting, attended by some 200 people, TSATC voted unanimously to adopt the motion: "The Town Council supports and fully understands the anger of local residents at the plan to deprive them of one of the few open spaces in the Town: it will oppose this scheme by all means available to it". Furthermore, as the minutes of that meeting record, Town mayor Russel James "asked if those present would like a public meeting in Thorpe St Andrew and there was overwhelming support from the audience. Mr James said it would be best left until September when the outcome of the Joint Core Strategy was known".

In answer to a question from FTW on 20th August, Steven Ford confirmed that there has been no change in TSATC's position. However, it seems that TSATC is now considering allowing the September meeting to be controlled by T&FT. Mr Ford has told FTW that as T&FT will be paying for hire of the venue, it could be considered 'their' meeting! Despite our protestations, in which we have referred to the minutes from 7th July, Mr Ford appears to remain of the view that TSATC may need to ask for T&FT's kind permission to allow FTW and the public in general to speak!

If it turns out that the September meeting is to be under T&FT's control, and a re-run of their final charrette presentation - at which Andres Duany did his best to avoid taking questions on the principle of the scheme and on anything to do with the woodlands' ecological importance - it will be a travesty. This was supposed to be a public meeting called by TSATC on behalf of the people it represents - not an opportunity f0r the developers to tell people what they think they should be told.

We will know more after tomorrow - watch this space.


  1. After using the phrase:- ..."The Town Council supports and fully understands the anger of local residents at the plan to deprive them of one of the few open spaces in the Town: it will oppose this scheme by all means available to it"...What investigations have been undertaken into taking the area of Thorpe Woodlands into community ownership as a Town/Village Green? I believe something similar has been achieved in the Downham Market area.

  2. it would be a crying shame if these woods were to be torn up and yet more houses built. there are many open field areas about to used first!. the land around tesco and the park+ride could be broadened out. We must stop this now for us and future generations.

  3. We need to prevent the woodland AND the open fields from being developed - the whole premise of this proposed development is nonsensical. We should fight for dispersal around the county above large scale developments such as the Greater Norwich Development Partnership are proposing. Strange that South Norfolk have chosen the dispersal option and yet are members of the GNDP which promotes development largely in NE Norwich triangle!!