Concerns raised over proposed 343-home estate

The woodland site in North Walsham's south, which is threatened by development. Inset, one of the objectors, Avril Smith.

The woodland site in North Walsham's south, which is threatened by development. Inset, one of the objectors, Avril Smith. - Credit: Archant/Bill Smith

Concerns over badgers, traffic and crime are among those over plans for a new 343-home estate and care home for the elderly on land in North Walsham's south. 

Hopkins Homes wants to develop the site next to North Walsham Garden Centre, on Nursery Drive.

Since the Suffolk-based developer submitted plans for the scheme to North Norfolk District Council in June, there have been some supporting, but many more objecting comments from members of the public and groups.

Hopkins Homes wants to build a 343-home estate and elderly care home in North Walsham. 

Hopkins Homes wants to build a 343-home estate and elderly care home in North Walsham. - Credit: Planning documents

Hopkins has said it is listening to the public. But one area of concern is an patch of woodland that forms part of the site, where surveys have found the presence of wildlife including badgers and bats. 

Avril Smith, who lives nearby and started an online petition against the removal of the woodland, said the plans could be modified so the woodland could stay as it was. 

She said: “It has got trees and shrubs and undergrowth - it’s a perfect haven for biodiversity.

"We’re talking about a small area - they could still build the houses, and if anything, the woodland would enhance any properties built there. 

Avril Smith, who objects to removal of the woodland area in North Walsham. 

Avril Smith, who objects to removal of the woodland area in North Walsham. - Credit: Bill Smith

“I live in a Hopkins Home and it’s a beautiful home, they’ve got a good standard, but they will not consider the environment and they’re refusing to modify their plans.”

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North Walsham Town Council has objected to the plans over the potential loss of trees and biodiversity, and the volume of traffic using the planned Hornbeam Road and Ewing Road exits from the estate.

A submission from Norfolk Police says they "have not been invited to work within the pre-application planning phase" of the development.

The letter said the police were: "very disappointed to find that no specific reference to crime prevention, designing out crime or physical security for this significant development have been detailed".

The woodland site in North Walsham's south is under threat of being removed for new housing.

The woodland site in North Walsham's south is under threat of being removed for new housing. - Credit: Archant

A spokesman for Hopkins Homes said the development would provide "a range of benefits for the community" including open space for walking routes, allotments, a community orchard and an elderly care facility."

Hopkins Homes: Further comments 

The spokesman said an initial independent survey did not find any evidence of active badger setts. 

However a follow-up badger survey report carried out by Iceni Ecology and submitted with the planning application in June says: "A main sett with six holes was identified on the site, with a dead sub-adult badger close by.

"The dead badger was inspected and no signs of foul play were observed.
"From the six holes, two appeared to be well used, two partially used and the remaining two disused."

The survey said badgers had only recently moved to the area, as the sett was not observed in April/May last year.

The spokesman said stakeholders including the police were consulted with during their planning process.

He said: "As with all consultees, all comments received to Hopkins Homes will be considered in liaison with the planning officer and changes made to the proposals where they are deemed necessary.”

The spokesman also said Hopkins would work with local authorities and the highways authority to address any traffic concerns.