On the 18th of March Broadland District Council launched its 3 month public consultation on its North-East Norwich Growth Triangle Area Action Plan (we’ll just call it the AAP). The AAP had 45 questions relating to all aspects of the future development of a large area of mainly rural open land north-east of Norwich. Over the 12 weeks of the consultation exercise, a total of 3067 responses were made by members of the public and what councils like to call ‘stakeholders’ (ie: landowners, developers, organizations with interests in how land is developed, etc). A breakdown of the responses is interesting:
The 45 questions attracted 3067 responses altogether, of which 2446 were responses directly to questions 23 and 24, ie: the two Thorpe Woods questions. That’s right, almost four times as many people responded to the Thorpe Woods questions as to all the other 43 questions put together. Question 23 was on whether Thorpe Woods should be allocated for some development or retained in its entirety as it is: 1662 responses were made, of which 1659 were unequivocally against development and for retention as woodland. The three pro-development responses were from Gail Mayhew, Socially Conscious Capital, and one member of the public.
Question 24 was on whether a new link road, joining Plumstead Road in the south with Salhouse Road in the north, should pass through the middle of the wood, or around the wood’s eastern edge. 784 responses were made, of which 99% either supported the eastern route in order to avoid damaging the woodland, or expressed opposition to any new link road at all.
The other 43 questions attracted 621 responses. Despite very few of the other questions having any direct relevance to Thorpe Woods, many of the responses were either solely expressing opposition to the concept of development occurring on Thorpe Woods, or made some mention of such views within the body of the responses.
Among respondents to questions 23 & 24 were Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England, RSPB, CPRE, the Norwich Society, Norwich City Council, Norwich Green Party, and a large number of people from all over the Norwich area as well as Thorpe. There were also a significant number of responses from further afield in Norfolk, and a few from other parts of the country: there were even a couple from France!
The consultation’s results have given BDC a very clear impression of public feeling on the questions they asked, at least where questions relating to Thorpe Woods are concerned. The Mayhews, Mellens and Meath-Bakers may try to continue ignoring public feeling, but we hope BDC will heed it, and refuse to give an inch to those who would flatten one of the Norwich area’s most treasured areas of woodland for their own profit.
Let’s hope that, by July 2014, we can bring the good news that the woods are at last safe.