Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 9°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Great Horkesley: D-Day for £25m heritage centre

11:20 28 February 2013

Kate  Bunting at the Great Horkesley site

Kate Bunting at the Great Horkesley site

AN EAGERLY awaited decision over controversial plans for Horkesley Park Heritage and Conservation Centre is due to be made tonight.

shares

Members of Colchester Borough Council’s planning committee will vote whether Bunting & Sons get the go-ahead to build the £25million tourist attraction on the edge of the Stour Valley.

The application, which has been recommended for approval by officers at the local authority, has met with strong opposition from campaigners but has also received support from Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell and those who believe it would create a significant number of employment opportunities.

This week, Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin has written to the planning committee calling on members to reject the scheme.

He says the 300-page planning officer’s report fails to address “fundamental objections” and the main conclusions condemn the project.

Mr Jenkin said if the scheme is approved he would feel “compelled” to press the secretary of state to call-in the application.

Bunting & Sons want to build the 100-acre visitor attraction within the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It would include an art gallery, gardens, a Suffolk Punch breeding centre and animal displays but all buildings would fall outside the AONB.

The company say it would be a celebration of the countryside and there is huge support for the centre from members of the public.

The Stour Valley Action Group (SVAG), which strongly opposes the application, has submitted a report to the planning committee ahead of tonight’s meeting setting out its reasons for rejecting the scheme.

The group say Horkesley Park would not be deliverable and goes against national and local planning policies.

They cite the council’s consultant, Britton McGrath Associates, which states there would be 150,000 visitors a year at the most and the scheme would only create 50-60 jobs compared with the 170 the applicants are claiming.

Chair Will Pavry said: “Deliverability is all important and it’s quite clear it’s not deliverable or going to be able to achieve anything like the numbers they say.”

He added: “The process followed by planning officers has been deeply flawed and they have not consulted properly.

“The consultation report published last week on the council’s website was completely wrong and there has been no chance for consultation.

“The applicant should carry out proper market research on consumers before going forward. After 12 years it is absolutely amazing this hasn’t been carried out.

“My view is councillors will see this is a deeply flawed application and also contrary to planning policy and they will reject it.”

Hector Bunting, a partner of Bunting & Sons: “Horkesley Park will be an asset for the community, an amenity for local people and a draw for tourists, giving open access to the countryside, benefiting bio-diversity and habitats and providing a large number of jobs”.

“The huge support from members of the public as well as a number of Parish Councils including Great Horkesley and Myland and other bodies including the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Essex.”

Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for planning Tim Young said: “I wish the Stour Valley Action Group would campaign on the strengths of their arguments more than criticising council officers.

“I will defend the officers 100%. They have done a very balanced job but it will be a matter for the planning committee having gone through a comprehensive report which is excellent.”

Related articles

shares

0 comments

Fire crews rescue the man in Rumburgh - photo Jane Davis

A driver is lucky to have escaped after his car careered off the road and into a pond in Rumburgh, say eyewitnesses.

There are around 17 miles of tailbacks on the northbound A12 this evening.

A property in Leavenheath was burgled on Monday.

Police are appealing for information after a man who exposed himself to a 16-year-old boy on Tuesday.

Nowton Park daffodils. Pictured is George Cole.

March winds and April showers should give a very traditional flavour to the weather over the next few days as youngsters across Suffolk start their Easter school holidays.

The Charlatans' frontman Tim Burgess is looking forward to returning to V Festival this year

The Charlatans are among the latest names added to this year’s V Festival.

Staff at Sainsbury's on Woodbridge Road Andrew Rodger (left) and Martin Palman with youngsters at Noah's Ark Pre-School taking part in a fundraising 'bunny bounce' to raise money for a better outdoor play area and staff Sam Chambers (front L to R) Sophie Woodward and Sue Woolard.

Dozens of toddlers have helped an Ipswich pre-school raise funds to improve its outdoor play area – by taking part in a ‘Bunny Bounce’ challenge.

Hollesley.

Opposition has been voiced over proposals to use part of the grounds of a residential home for nine properties, including much-needed affordable housing.

The design of the proposed new clifftop shelter at Felixstowe - a replacement for an earlier modernistic design labelled as a monstrosity by some councillors.

Proposals for a new clifftop shelter labelled by a community leader as a “monstrosity” have been ditched in favour of a more traditional design.

Enthusiasts at Bawdsey Transmitter Block at Bawdsey Manor to mark the 80th anniversary of the Daventry Experiment which proved radar was possible. A £1.4m lottery bid has been lodged to preserve the old radar station.

Enthusiasts have submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for grant aid towards a £1.4million project to preserve one of Britain’s most precious pieces of war-time history and turn it into a major attraction.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages