Some time ago we reported that Rock Fielding-Mellen of Socially Conscious Capital had taken over from Gail Mayhew as the Thorpe Woodlands scheme's chief promoter. Mr Mellen's SCC is now being assisted by Lockhart Garratt (a large forestry consultancy) and Turley Associates (a planning consultancy). Representatives from all three held a meeting at Broadland council's offices on May 30th, where they presented their latest ideas for the woods. The meeting's agenda, drawn up by Lockhart Garratt, stated the purpose of the meeting as: "To gather initial views from key environmental stakeholders on a potential concept for the Racecourse Plantation site that seeks to deliver a new community woodland and Green Infrastructure asset, but potentially enabled by some minor element of housing".
We're used to seeing these greenwashed concept drawings from the variety of consultants T&FT have employed over the past 3 years, but this one takes the biscuit. We've created a modified version, here shown below, on which we've greyed out the development and re-coloured the map to better illustrate the loss and fragmentation of habitat. On the original, squint and you might just spot Racecourse's one road, which will presumably get jammed with the parked cars of the several hundred residents who'll have no way of driving any closer to their houses. But maybe they won't need to, and maybe there won't even be 'houses' as we know them? Look at the original's key and you'll see that light green with diagonal hatching means "Arcadian Development". According to my dictionary Arcadian means: "Idealised rural scene of simple pleasure and quiet, typified in Greek and Latin pastoral poetry". How lovely! A scatter of little wooden cabins, smoke drifting lazily into the clear sky, squirrels on bicycles delivering nuts and berries. What could be nicer? Sadly, it means housing estate - about 70 acres-worth, according to our calculations (so much for "some minor element..."), stretched across all three woods, not just Racecourse. Notice how the hatched green extends along what looks like nice leafly tracks. Notice, too, the liberal scatter of picnic tables, benches etc, plus a play area, car park, cafe, retail outlet (Tesco?) etc, as if these are features every decent wood and county wildlife site should have.
If their main plan seems far-fetched, their supplementary drawings are out of this world. We won't waste time trying to explain what they're supposed to mean (it's doubtful even they know), but we'll just point you in the direction of the 'explanatory' text at the lower left corner of each drawing. There must be courses somewhere, where people get trained in this kind of language. (Click on each image to see a large version)
We particularly admire the way the last picture attempts to claim credit for the natural processes of the woodland they'd like to wreck.
At their private meeting, they said that unless they get permission to build in the woods, they might step up forestry operations and fence all the woodland off. They muttered a similar threat during their 'charrette' in 2010, though strenuously denied it later.
The 'Trustees' seem utterly desperate. Anyone might think they were short of money, but not at all: their family owns the 5000 acre Walsingham Estate (including its famous abbey, hall, four villages and numerous farms) plus other woodland in the Sprowston area, in Drayton, in Felthorpe, and for all we know, in many other parts of Norfolk. They certainly don't need the money, and they can no longer fool anyone that they're performing some kind of public service (as they tried to make out back in 2010), because they are now well aware of the massive level of public opposition to their plans. They are also now aware of the woodland's' value to the environment and to Norwich. It seems more like a hobby for them, or something that started out like that but has hardened into a grim determination to defeat the nature and people who stand in their way.
If that's how it is, they're in for a long game because we'll continue standing in their way for as long as it takes.