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St Osyth: Proposals for 190 new homes to aid repairs to historic priory given go-ahead

16:12 22 January 2014

St Osyth Priory

St Osyth Priory

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Major plans for 190 new homes which it is hoped will provide the catalyst for vital repairs to St Osyth’s historic priory have been given the initial go-ahead.

The scheme – put forward by the Sargeant family which owns the former monastery which dates back to 1120 – involves 16.3 hectares of land known as the Wellwick site.

Tendring District Council’s planning committee last night agreed the proposal by 7 votes to 4.

Members accepted the principal of development for the land which lies outside the St Osyth Priory Estate - but want full details of the plans to come back before them at a future date for consideration.

The application will also have to be referred to the Secretary of State for a decision over whether it should be called-in.

The 190 homes were promoted by the Sargeant family as a way of generating funds needed to repair and restore the priory which is a national heritage asset, but it will not meet the full costs.

Seven other applications – which amounted to a further 142 homes, a visitor centre within the estate and the demolition of 7 Mill Street – were refused by the committee on policy grounds.

All the applications were opposed by St Osyth Parish Council and campaign group Save Our St Osyth.

English Heritage also objected to the majority of the applications but recognised the merits of the Wellwick site, and asked for it to be deferred for further discussion.

More than 400 people packed the Princes Theatre last night to hear the debate which went on for more than five hours.

Those against the proposals claimed they would “destroy the village”, would increase traffic problems, would cause significant harm to the village’s conservation area and would not raise the money needed to restore the priory.

They were also concerned about the adverse impact of the extra homes would have on the village school and doctors’ surgeries.

The campaigners believe that an independent charitable trust is the best way to raise the funds needed for the repairs and restoration.

The Sargeant family said that all options need to be investigated in a bid to raise sufficient funds – and these include a trust.

However, they said the enabling development as proposed would provide the catalyst to get this off the ground.

They claimed their plans were deliverable and viable and would mean the work on buildings would start sooner. It would begin the revitalisation of the estate, which they said, could then be enjoyed by more people.

The family appealed to the committee to at least approve the scheme for the 190 new homes at the Wellwick site.

They felt the benefits from their proposals far outweighed any harm they would cause.

Carlo Guglielmi, Tendring Council’s cabinet member for planning and corporate services, said that the common ground shared by everyone was that they want to see the priory and parkland restored.

“These are some of the biggest proposals to ever come before us and meet our policy to provide aspirational homes but there is no doubt there would be harm caused by some of the applications and they were rejected,” he said.

“However, I do not believe harm will be caused by granting the Wellwick site and the Highways Authority has raised no objections on traffic grounds.

“These 190 homes will help to kick-start the repair and restoration of the priory buildings and that was something that had to be taken very seriously.”

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