Abbey estate consultation: How Samphire's tenants will shape the future of their community

Residents on the Abbey estate in Thetford are being asked to help to shape the future of their area as a community consultation gathers pace. 

Last month, Flagship Group began consulting local people on possible options and ideas for the Abbey, which had been developed in response to themes highlighted by the community. 

Four options and a range of improvements to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour, parking, use and condition of the garages, and safety and connectivity across the estate were presented to residents for their views. 

These included improvements to the garage courts, a new neighbourhood park, new homes, a wider choice of shops, new play facilities, better lighting, and suggestions for the river area, amongst others. 

Around 440 local people took part in the first step of the consultation which revealed: 

  • Improved facilities for young people, better parking across the estate, and better lighting were the most important improvements for local people;  
  • Better lighting across the estate and a new neighbourhood park were the ideas people liked most; 
  • An adventure playground and trees and planting were the top choices for a new neighbourhood park; 
  • Improved parking was the most important improvement residents would like to see on their street.

Residents were also asked to choose which of four options for the estate they would like, with the least preferred option now removed from further consultation.  

Based on the feedback, Flagship Group is consulting again and is presenting solutions to the issues and themes raised in step 1. This includes parking improvements and more detail on a new neighbourhood park. And, people will this time be asked to rate three possible options for the estate.  

Peter Hawes, Chairman of Flagship Group said: “Thank you to everyone who shared their views in the first step of our consultation with Abbey residents.  

“We have listened to what you’ve told us and as a result, we’re presenting solutions in response to the issues and feedback that emerged from step 1 of the consultation.  

“We are committed to the Abbey estate. We know it’s a place with a great community spirit but with a number of challenges too. We want to work with local people to tackle these, bring significant and sustainable improvements, and make the estate an even better place to be for today’s, and tomorrow’s, residents.” 

Every resident on the estate is receiving a brochure that sets out the possible options and solutions and they can have their say by completing the form sent out with the brochure – returning to the neighbourhood centre or in the freepost envelope – or online: www.givemyview/abbeyestate/polls  The closing date for feedback in this step of the consultation is Monday 9 August 2021. 

Flagship is also offering residents the opportunity to find out more about the consultation by taking part in a 121 drop-in at the neighbourhood centre throughout the month of July.  

The consultation comes on the back of extensive community engagement between 2019 and 2020 to find out what matters to local people in their area, with drop-in events and online polls held to gather feedback.  

Peter Hawes added: “I would urge Abbey residents to please tell us what you think. We want to know what you want for your community, what you would like to see, and what improvements are the most important for you.  

“We don’t know yet what the future will look like – and these are long-term plans - but we do know that we will do something: because of the feedback we’ve heard, doing nothing is not an option. But, whatever we do will be shaped collaboratively.” 

Flagship is committed to working with community partners and organisations, including Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council. In November 2019, Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council agreed to work collaboratively with Flagship Group for the Abbey estate. 

Norfolk County Councillor Graham Plant, deputy leader and cabinet member for growing the economy, said: “I’d encourage all Abbey estate residents to come forward with their views on how to transform the estate, its surroundings and its services. I look forward to seeing what ideas emerge.” 

Cllr Paul Claussen, Breckland Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development and Growth, commented: “This is an exciting opportunity for local people to help shape the future of the Abbey estate, from the housing there to community facilities and services. I urge residents to come forward to share their views and outline what is most important to them, so Flagship can shape their proposals with people’s comments in mind.” 

This is just the second step in a process which will see further consultation later this autumn when residents will be invited to choose the option they want for the Abbey.