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Walton: Alternative solutions for management of Walton’s Naze could be made in a bid to find common ground between supporters and opponents of lease plan

08:30 23 March 2014

Aerial view of the Naze

Aerial view of the Naze

Archant

An alternative solution for the future management of an Essex beauty spot is to be discussed in a bid to find common ground between opponents and supporters of a controversial new education and visitor centre at the site.

The move comes as Tendring District Council prepares to debate the Essex Wildlife Trust’s proposal of a 60-year lease for Walton’s Naze, which has been a source of worry for some people who use the area.

They fear that if the proposal is successful, it will result in the trust turning the Naze into a nature reserve, limiting the use of the 45 hectares.

But district council leader, Mick Page, has asked for an alternative lease option to be explored.

This would see the Naze open space remain in the district council’s ownership and the trust would lease just the land required to build and run the new centre.

He admitted there were strong and wide-ranging opinions on the project and that while many have welcomed improved facilities at The Naze, there have been concerns about management of the land.

Mr Page added: “Given the possibility of a visitor centre at the Naze run by the EWT, which will make the most of the superb educational and quiet recreational opportunities the Naze can offer all the year round, we need to carefully consider the options.

“A new centre, if built, would also contribute to the regeneration of the area and enhance the experience of our visitors and residents alike.

“With this in mind I have asked TDC officers to develop an alternative proposal for cabinet to consider.

“The alternative approach would allow the council to retain ownership of the Naze open space and for the EWT to lease just the land needed to build the visitor centre.”

The two organisations would manage the land through a management agreement under the control of a Naze Management Board which would include representatives from Frinton and Walton Town Council, TDC, Essex County Council, the EWT, and other local partners.

John Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “Essex Wildlife Trust welcomes the opportunity to continue working with Tendring District Council and other partners at the Naze. Partnership is fundamental to the work we do and has been at the heart of the Naze Heritage Project since we started working together in 2006.

“The Trust wants to provide good information and good facilities for local people and visitors, which we believe the Naze deserves, and would be pleased to be part of a Naze Management Board which will oversee the practical management of the Naze, to help retain its special interest.”

David Gager, chairman of The Naze Protection Society, was adamant that Essex Wilidlife Trust would not make any major changes to the area without consultation.

He added: “One of the reasons we want them up there is that they are very strong and they get things done.”

The district council will discuss the results of a public consultation and a petition opposed to the idea when the cabinet meets on April 11 to make a formal decision over the lease.

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