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St Osyth: Reaction to decision on 190 homes proposed at the Priory

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 January 2014

St Osyth Priory

St Osyth Priory

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Proposals for 190 new homes which could prove the catalyst for vital repairs to a historic priory have been given the initial go-ahead.

The scheme – put forward by the Sargeant family which owns the former monastery in St Osyth that dates back to 1120 – involves about 40 acres of land known as the Wellwick site.

Tendring District Council’s planning committee agreed the proposal by seven votes to four. Councillors 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.

The application will also have to be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles 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. Those against the proposals claim they would “destroy the village”, increase traffic problems and cause significant harm to the community’s conservation area. They also say the money generated will fall far short of the total required to restore the priory.

Phyllis Hendy, planning adviser from the group, said: “We feel it’s the first skirmish in what’s going to be a long war and there are several battles ahead.

“They cannot raise sufficient money from the development to do any of the conserving, preserving and restoring, what they can do is raise some money for repairs, the lowest estimate for repairs was £11million, the highest from the applicant was £26m.”

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.

A spokesman for the Sargeant family said: “This will kick start our proposals to fund the restoration of St Osyth Priory, the region’s singularly most important historic estate.

“There will need to be a multi-faceted funding approach to secure the future of the priory but given the enormity of challenge, every small step forward is progress.”

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