Plan challenge ‘is for good of town’

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AN ESTATE has insisted its statutory challenge to major development plans is ‘what is best for the town’.

Chris Kennard, from Shadwell Estate, said the business had ‘no option’ but to challenge Breckland Council’s Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) – a document laying out the town’s growth in the next 15 years.

“Since 2006, when we were first approached by Breckland, we have tried to respond in a supportive, cooperative way.

“Regrettably, this approach has not been reciprocated by Breckland,” he said.

The estate’s main complaint lies with the enforcement of a 1,500m development buffer zone, put in place to protect the stone curlew, a protected species of bird.

Development is prohibited within the buffer zone, as planners believe it would have a harmful affect on stone curlew numbers.

But Mr Kennard said the estate’s 15 years of conservation work had helped raise the stone curlew population – before the buffer zone was introduced.

“Since its introduction in 2008, Shadwell, amongst others, have consistently questioned the need for the 1,500m buffer and the science behind it, backed up by expert advice from Landscape Science Consultancy,” he said.

“In the absence of the further work agreed as necessary in order to resolve the uncertainty as to the impact of built development on stone curlew, Breckland Council have pressed ahead with the TAAP.”

He added: “Accordingly, the TAAP has, in Shadwell’s opinion, not been prepared in accordance with regulations, in that it fails to give appropriate consideration, on a proportionate basis, to the environmental impact on the stone curlew of development of all land around Thetford.”

Thetford Town Council has backed the estate’s challenge.

No-one from Breckland Council was available to comment on the challenge before the paper went to press.