Plans have been lodged for the controversial 20-year-long redevelopment of a Norfolk housing estate, which could see hundreds of homes torn down. 

The proposals submitted by Flagship Housing Group will see hundreds of homes demolished and rebuilt on the Abbey Estate in Thetford, and up to 500 new properties constructed. 

The redevelopment of the 1,100-home estate would take place in phases over 20 years and has been widely opposed by locals, who say it will "tear the community apart".

The outline planning application submitted by Flagship is now set to be considered by Breckland Council, which will decide whether the £250m project should go ahead.

Thetford & Brandon Times: The Abbey Estate in ThetfordThe Abbey Estate in Thetford (Image: Sonya Duncan)It was previously understood that the proposals would see 540 homes demolished, but the total number is now "undecided". 

Flagship has said that it will offer to purchase any homes set for demolition at fair market value or provide their owners with a replacement dwelling in the Abbey. 

Fiona Kiane, who has lived on the estate for 24 years, fears she will lose her home. 

She said: "It's going to tear this community apart, they haven't listened to us at all. 

"I love my home and and they're going to take it all away. We've got to live on a building site for 20 years with all of the dust and the noise. This is not our choice.

"It's just wrong and I'm not happy at all."

Thetford & Brandon Times: The Abbey Estate in ThetfordThe Abbey Estate in Thetford (Image: Sonya Duncan)The application sets out plans for an additional 320 to 500 homes in the estate, although an exact figure is yet to be confirmed and will be based on further consultation. Some existing properties will be improved or retrofitted during the process.

The development will include special care units and HMOs, as well as business and educational spaces.

Peter Hawes, chairman of Flagship Group, said: "This is an exciting day for the Abbey, which has been at the heart of the Thetford community since it was built more than 50 years ago.

"The outline planning application follows five years of talking to the people who have a home on the Abbey.

"Local people have told us that they do want to see improvements for the Abbey and they’ve let us know what things could be better."

Thetford & Brandon Times: Peter HawesPeter Hawes (Image: Flagship Group)But Terry Jermy, Labour county councillor for Thetford West and his party's prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, said: "For any large-scale regeneration project to be successful, it is crucial that the local residents and wider community are taken along on the journey and are in broad support of any proposals.

"Flagship have utterly failed in this respect as their proposals do not carry the support of residents or local councillors, myself included. They have not addressed some of the fundamental concerns of residents.

"The Abbey has many positives, two primarily being the much-loved green open spaces and the sense of community spirit - both could be lost by these proposals so Flagship and others must tread carefully or risk destroying this community."

READ MORE: Thetford Abbey Estate land could be given away for free

Thetford & Brandon Times: Labour county councillor Terry JermyLabour county councillor Terry Jermy (Image: Labour Party)People living on the estate are upset about the possible demolition of their homes as well as the loss of green space and overcrowding in the area, resulting in a strain on public services.

They have now launched a petition against the plans and urged Flagship to reconsider their proposal. 

The campaign was started by Chloe Taylor, whose family moved to Thetford from Kent to "escape" rented accommodation.

Thetford & Brandon Times: Abbey Estate residentsAbbey Estate residents (Image: Owen Sennitt)She said: "Our community deserves better than this - we deserve homes that are secure and neighbourhoods that are safe with ample green spaces for children and adults alike.

"Let us stand together against these destructive plans by Flagship and demand they reconsider their proposal for the sake of current residents as well as future generations."