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St Osyth: Meeting to determine the future of 900-year-old Priory looms

18:11 20 January 2014

St Osyth Priory.

St Osyth Priory.

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The future of one of the most important heritage sites in north Essex is set to be determined tomorrow evening.

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A specially-arranged meeting of Tendring District Council’s planning committee is being held at the Prince’s Theatre in Clacton to assess an ambitious scheme to fund the repair of the 900-year-old St Oysth’s Priory.

The Sargeant family, which owns the property, has submitted seven applications which propose modernising the former monastery complex and constructing 332 homes on or near its estate. They say it is only through development that they can hope to raise the funds - estimated to be between £11-26million - required to bring the ancient building back to its former glory.

Family member, Tim Sargeant, said: “The family has lived at this estate, and been trying to find a way – in partnership with the council and English Heritage – to restore these wonderful buildings with the use of enabling development since 2005.

“We recognise that inevitably our proposals do some harm to the estate when viewed in isolation, but the scale and importance of the challenge to save these wonderful heritage assets, combined with the public benefits that will result, more than make up for any harm.”

The plans are opposed by a large number of people in the village, who have a formed a group called Save Our St Osyth (SOS).

According to Phyllis Hendy, a planning adviser for the group, the business plan doesn’t add up.

She said: “The proposed development will only generate a third of the money required to repair the Priory. The only way to raise the money is to take the Priory out of private hand and place it under the guardianship of a charitable trust that will be able to access public funds for the repairs.”

The meeting which starts at 6pm has been moved from the council chambers to the nearby Prince’s Theatre in anticipation of a large turn-out.

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