A campaigner aiming to stop a plan to turn an “affordable” campsite into a luxury eco-lodge retreat has spoken of her distress at losing the battle.
Shirley Martin, and husband Ian, representing the Save Thorpe Woodlands group, were at Breckland Council’s planning committee meeting on Monday to hear the approval for Forest Holidays to build 70 timber cabins at Thorpe Woodlands, just off the A1066 in Harling.
Those using the existing Thorpe Woodlands campsite were told just three weeks ago that they needed to remove any caravans from the site by today.
Mrs Martin, who has camped at the site for 13 years, and had her caravan permanently on site, said: “It has been a very stressful and distressing period people at the camp. The feeling is that people would rather see it go back to nature, than what is proposed.”
Forest Holidays, part-owned by the public Forestry Commission, which is the landowner, claim the site will bring increased economic benefit to the area.
The lodges will be costly to hire, up to £3,000 for the largest, where as a caravan pitch would cost about £150 for a week.
Forest Holidays claim that with their predicted 90 per cent occupancy rates, an additional £2.5 million will be spent in the local area by holiday makers.
The lodges would be designed to blend in with the woodland setting and the planning committee was happy that the development would not harm the environment, with particular concern for the habitats of nightjars, stone curlews and woodlarks.
Mrs Martin said that the lack of communication from either Camping in the Forest or the Forestry Commission added to the upset of loyal campers.
She said some older residents had to sell their caravans at a below market price, when the deadline for getting off the site was announced.
No comment came from the Forestry Commission, but in a letter to the campaigners, they said: “Notification to the site users about the proposed changes is a matter for the businesses themselves, but we have spoken to both Forest Holidays and Campinq in the Forest about their handling of this.”