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Thetford Community Governance Review (Boundary Change Consultation)

A large new housing development — known as Kingsfleet — has been granted planning permission on the northern edge of Thetford. This land currently mostly lies within the neighbouring parishes of Croxton and Kilverstone. In late 2017, Thetford Town Council requested a "Community Governance Review" to consider changing the boundary of the Parish of Thetford so that the new houses would lie in Thetford Parish. Breckland District Council agreed to carry out this review.

After various consultations and committee meetings, on 6th December 2018, Breckland Council decided to partially accept the request, by agreeing to move the boundary between Thetford and Croxton Parishes. This means that the land on which most of the new houses in the first three phases of the Kingsfleet Development will be built, will now become part of Thetford Parish. The boundary between Thetford and Kilverstone Parishes will remain where it is for the time being, as work on the majority of the new houses that are expected to be built there will not start until around 2034. A new parish ward called 'Iceni' will will be created covering the new part of Thetford, for the election of two additional Thetford Town Councillors.

Current parish boundaries shown with dark grey lines; Kingsfleet housing development area shown in pink; agreed new boundary for Thetford Parish shown with blue dashed line; potential future boundary extension shown with red dotted line.

Details of the Community Governance Review Process

A Stage 1 Consultation on the plans was run from 8th January to 16th March 2018. A total of 525 responses were received. Over 75% of the respondents said they were in favour of the boundary change. However, there was a clear split between those from Thetford parish — who were mostly in favour of the change, and those from the village parishes — who were mostly against. (See the full list of responses, and Breckland's summary of numbers for and against.)

The Community Governance Sub-Committee of Breckland Council considered the responses. Despite the overwhelming majority of the responses being in favour of the changes, the Sub-Committee decided to propose ``no change to the boundary'' to go forward to the Stage 2 Consultation. Their reasoning was that: (1) as a proportion of the total population, the percentage of Thetford residents responding in favour was lower than the percentage of parish residents against, and (2) those living in the yet-to-be-built houses should be consulted. (Draft Minutes of the Sub-Committee meeting.)

The Stage 2 Consultation ran from 16th April to 22nd June 2018. Full details and an online response form can be found at the link above. The proposal in Stage 2 was to not change the boundary. So this time respondents who wanted to see the Thetford boundary changed to include Kingsfleet, needed to respond that they disagreed with the proposal. Copies of all the responses received can be found online.

The Breckland Community Governance Sub-Committee met on Wednesday 8th August to consider the Stage 2 responses. Following much publicity in the area, a total of 3947 responses were received, broken down as 92 agreeing with the 'no change' proposal, 2855 disagreeing. Meeting agenda and details.

After much discussion and representations from various councillors and other representatives, the Sub-Committee agreed to recommend that the boundary between Thetford and Croxton be moved to the A11, while the boundary with Kilverstone would remain where it is for the time being. If accepted by the Full Council, this would mean that the almost all of the first three phases of the Kingsfleet development (up until around 2034) will be within Thetford parish. (A small part of Phase 1 lies to the east of the A1075, which would remain in Kilverstone Parish.) A review of the Kilverstone Boundary could be carried out nearer the time of the later development.

A third consultation took place between 20th August and 28th September. This gave people the opportunity to comment on the new proposals, including the addition of a new two-councillor ward for Thetford Town Council, what the ward should be called, and any further comments on the boundary move.

The Community Governance Sub-Committee met again on 19th October to consider the responses. A total of 99 responses had been received. 86 were in favour of adding a new ward with two additional councillors, and 67 agreed with the boundary change proposals. The committee agreed to recommend the proposed changes to full council. Suggested names for the new ward were varied, but 47 people suggested "Saxon", probably as a result of encouragement from a local activist. The committee was divided over the name, as there had been a previous Thetford ward called "Saxon", which could therefore result in confusion. It was eventually agreed to propose "New Saxon" as the ward name. Meeting agenda and details.

The proposals then went forward to a full meeting of Breckland Council on 6th December 2018 for a final decision (Final Recommendations Report). The council voted in favour of the proposed boundary change and additional ward for Thetford, but decided that the name of the new ward should be 'Iceni'.

Since the Thetford Parish Wards have been changed recently, the decision must be referred to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) for consent. Once that has been obtained, it it not clear how soon the boundaries will actually be changed, and whether it will be done in time for the next town and parish council elections in May 2019.

Implications of a Boundary Change

If the Thetford boundary was moved to include Kingsfleet, the following changes would occur:

The following would not be affected, whether the boundary is moved or not:

Arguments Given in Favour of Moving the Boundary