Legal hitch for growth in Thetford

Papers have been lodged with the High Court in a direct legal challenge to a blueprint for growth in Thetford.

Plans for 5,000 new homes to the north of the town have been objected to by the Shadwell Estate, which believes there is not enough evidence to support their location. Lawyers for the estate, located just outside Thetford, were instructed to look into the Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) specifically on the issue of the stone curlew which planning officials had said limited growth to one area.

Shadwell Estate’s finance director, Chris Kennard, said the estate questioned the need for a 1,500 metre buffer zone which surrounded a special protection area (SPA) to the south and east on which stone curlews nested.

It felt there was still uncertainty surrounding the impact of development on the birds which required further research and the fact this had not happened, he said, meant the TAAP had “not been prepared in accordance with the regulations”.

“The consequence of this failure is that the direction of Thetford’s growth, as contained in the TAAP, is not what is best for the town. Shadwell has always tried to work with the local authorities and community believing that cooperation should lead to mutual benefit.

“It is therefore a source of regret that a challenge has had to be made,” he said.

The TAAP, which includes town centre regeneration plans, was subject to a two-day public inquiry in March. The document was found to be sound by an independent planning inspector in June.

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Thetford Town Council has supported the legal challenge amid fears around the concentration of housing proposed and what it sees as a lack of regeneration to the town’s existing estates.

A Breckland Council spokesman said: “We’re aware of the legal challenge but we’re unable to comment any further.”