March 12 2014 Latest news:
Ross Bentley and Andrew Hirst
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Conservationists set to take over the running of a popular public open space, say they have no intention of limiting people’s use of the area.
Essex Wildlife Trust is in negotiations with Tendring District Council over the management of Walton’s historic Naze after it was recently given planning permission to build a £1m education centre on the site.
The council is considering granting a 99-year lease to the trust to look after the 45 hectares and has put the proposals out for public consultation.
But the plans have met with opposition from a large number of people who currently use the site for a range of activities from dog-walking to kite-flying. They fear the trust’s intention is to turn parts of the land into a nature reserve – limiting the areas where people are free to roam.
The trust refutes these claims and says it wants to “look after the site for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment”.
The concerns of Charlotte Martin, who has been visiting the Naze for 25 years, are typical of many.
She said “The trust has had the planning permission granted for the building and now, as we expected, they are trying to push to take over the entire Naze area,” she said.
“The public open space that has been enjoyed for years will become a no go area – they will put all sorts of rules and regulations in place like they do with their other reserves.”
In response, the chief executive of Essex Wildlife Trust, John Hall, said: “We know there has been some concern from local dog walkers and we want to reassure them that it is not our intention to stop or restrict people visiting the Naze with dogs – either on or off the lead.
“It is all about working together for the future of the Naze, for its wildlife and heritage, for its importance to the local community of Walton and for the people who appreciate the Naze.
Tendring District Council has also moved to allay the fears.
Leader of the council, Peter Halliday, added: “The Naze is a really important facility for those living in the district and visitors from further afield – and there is no way we would want to see their access restricted.”
“However, going into partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust will make the most of a brilliant natural asset for the benefit of the district and help to share the costs with another organisation and provide affordable excellence at the site.”
The consultation runs until December 19. Comments on the proposed lease should be put in writing and sent by email to email@example.com or in the post to Assets manager, Tendring District Council, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, C015 1SE.