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Barnham Cross Common

Barnham Cross Common is an area of Registered Common Land (CL76) straddling the A134 Bury Road in Thetford. The land comprises a recreation ground, three fenced heath/scrub areas for frazing, and a number of smaller pockets of grassed open space near Nuns' Bridges. It is owned by Thetford Town Council.

There are no registered commoners for the common, so no-one apart from the land owner has any rights of pasture, haymaking etc. The general public does have the right to access the land on foot though, as the common is designated as Access Land. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a lead between 1 March and 31 July and around livestock. Horseriding is normally permitted on commons, but it is prohibited on Barnham Cross Common by a bylaw.

The heath/scrub areas either side of the A143 are designated as a Local Nature Reserve (L1008760) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (S1000547) giving them additional environmental protection.

Hedging 2021

In early 2021, Thetford Town Council planted shrubs in lines along some of the edges of Barnham Cross Common along Mill Lane and Nuns' Bridges Road. The hedges have gaps every few metres to allow pedestrian access.

The Council had previously run a consultation into the planting of the hedges, but it was not well publicised. Only local residents were invited to take part.

Habitat Restoration and Fencing for Grazing 2015–

In 2015, a joint poject was started between the Town Council and Plantlife to restore the former heathland habitat of the common for wildlife conservation reasons. Over the years trees had grown on the common, altering the ecosystem. The management plan has involved the removal of trees and scrub from a significant part of the two main heathland blocks of the common, and the encloure of these areas with fencing. The fenced-in areas are now being grazed by sheep and cattle to help manage the vegetation. The project was funded by WREN (now known as the FCC Communities Foundation), though their FCC Biodiversity Action Fund.

Under the Commons Act, the fencing on the common required approval from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. which was Permission was granted in February 2016, for an initial period of ten years.

The plans, and the reasons behind them were not initially well publicised by the Town Council. Anger expressed by some local people led to a reactive press release from the Council explaining more about the project.