Proposals for 115 homes refused over tree loss fears

The field, owned by Shadwell Estate in Thetford, which could see 115 homes built. Picture: Google

The field, owned by Shadwell Estate in Thetford, which could see 115 homes built. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

The potential felling of nearly 100 protected trees foiled plans for 115 homes on the edge of a Norfolk town.

Shadwell Estate, who are one of the biggest landowners in south west Norfolk, had applied for permission to build the new homes on a patch of land next to the A1088.

Councillors voted to refuse the application in October last year after concerns over the loss of 90 Scots Pine protected trees which form a gateway on the side of the road towards Thetford.

However, following the submission of a mitigation scheme provided by Shadwell, the application was brought back to Breckland District Council’s planning committee on Monday.

Within the scheme included proposals to plant replacement trees and brand new trees along both the A1088 and A1066.

Finance director at Shadwell Chris Kennard said the land was brought forward for development following a request by Breckland.

He added it was disappointing the plans were refused despite the estate’s decision to not legally remove the trees prior to the protection orders being served.

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During the meeting he said: “We declined to do so [remove the trees legally] preferring to minimise the total loss by waiting until we knew with certainty which trees would need to be felled.

“This same sympathetic approach has delivered the recovery of the stone curlew across the estate, notwithstanding the challenges this brings in the continued expansion of our activities.

“The replacement by new trees guarantees the preservation of this landscape for the longer term. Put another way, refusal of this application represents a short term fix rather than a long term solution”

The application also saw support from Clare Higson of the Thetford River Group, Stuart Wilson of the Thetford Society, and leader of Breckland Council, William Nunn.

However, concerns over the loss of the trees proved to be too high a hurdle to clear.

Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen spoke against the proposal at the meeting and referenced the climate protest undertaken by thousands of school children.

He said: “It goes against what society is looking for. Once again, if it was not for the removal of the 90 trees we would not be sat here today.

“Students would be rightly concerned that bricks would be taking precedent over the environment.”

Councillors voted six to four to refuse the application.