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Santon Downham - Forestry hub for Eastern England

Santon Downham is the district office for an enormous area, stretching from North Norfolk to London, and therefore plans made in the village manifest themselves in developments far afield.

An example of this is Forest Enterprise's involvement in Thames Chase, a community forest to the east of London. Since April 1999 Forest Enterprise has been working with the Thames Chase team and local authority partners to develop new woodland on brownfield and agricultural sites. The 10 year target is to develop woodland over an area eight times the size of Hyde Park.

This area of Thames Chase has suffered from industrial development and decline over the last century, and is one of three regions that will benefit from a 13M initiative, largely funded by the Treasury's Capital Modernisation Fund and the Forestry Commission. The initiative will start to heal the environmental damage of the past and provide an improved landscape in which new businesses can invest.

Work is already under way to turn old sand and gravel workings and landfill at Thames Chase into attractive woodland open to the public. Forest Enterprise, working in partnership with local authorities and the private sector, will develop the sites.

Even before the first tree is planted, local people are getting involved, helping with a community consultation to guide the design of their future woodland. In addition to improving these sites for consultation, recreation is a major objective in creating these new woodlands. The new woods will provide the type of open access - walking, cycling and horse riding - enjoyed by visitors to Santon Downham. Whether Thames Chase also gets a visit from Thetford Forest's husky racers remains to be seen.

The buildings were praised in "The buildings of England - Suffolk" by Nikolaus Pevsner, published by Penguin Books.
"Forestry Commission redevelopment. By Kenneth Wood 1967. An excellent group of three elements: administration offices, servicing buildings and fire station, and stores. The development forms a large element in the village group. Rough, over-burnt stock bricks, black stained unwrought timber, chosen to relate to the strong character of local flint and tile vernacular."
2000 Lisa Russell 

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac