Councillors Ian Mackie, Nigel Shaw and John Fisher pictured on the march through the woods last August held by the Friends and their supporters ,( See post: Get Off Our Land), met with members of the Friends to discuss the progress that had been made so far with the campaign, and how in 2011 we could broaden the campaign and start to take steps to put in place long term measures to protect Thorpe woods, measures that not only recognise the importance of these woods to the people of Thorpe St Andrew, but also to Norwich and Norfolk.
The councillors confirmed that the Trustees had made no further attempts to contact them or arrange any meetings, this matched up with our own experience as the Trustees have continued to ignore any attempts we and local residents have made to contact them.
However, the Trustees and their plans have not gone away. We discussed with the councillors the proposals that the Trustees had submitted to the recent series of Planning Inspectorate meetings which were held to consider the Greater Norwich Development Partnerships (which is made up of Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council) Joint Core Strategy which sets out the development proposals for the east of Norwich.
Gail Mayhew (see MEET THE MAYHEWS) was present at these meetings as were the Trustees agents Savills. They submitted documents supporting their development proposals, and in response to the inspectors request for a plan B if the Northern Distributor Road did not proceed as planned they put forward proposals for a link road that would connect the proposed 800 homes of the Belmore Park Development homes to the Salhouse Road.
Last year the campaign made a very good start, the Friends have a growing and active membership, a friendly press, good publicity, and a good working relationship with the council.
This year our main aim is to put in place some form of concrete long term protection for the woods. Although any potential development may be some time away we are still determined to put in place protection as soon as possible, especially as an application by the Trustees for planning permission could be made at any time and considerably in advance of any actual development.
We discussed the possibility of excluding the woods from the development triangle; and providing them with clear protection under the Action Plan that would have to be drawn up by Broadland District Council prior to the allocation of development sites as part of the Joint Core Strategy mentioned above.
It was agreed that the councillors would actively look into how long-term protection could be provided and the Friends would provide them with evidence to support this, for example letters from bodies such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust identifying why the woods should be afforded such protection.
We were also happy to agree to the councillors’ request to refer to us in their newsletters and to create links to our blog in their websites etc.
The Friends and Councillors will meet again at the end of March to discuss progress and the current position of the campaign.