�20m heritage park backed by businesses

PLANS for an ambitious �20million heritage and conservation centre on the Essex and Suffolk border have received support from local businesses.

Elliot Furniss

PLANS for an ambitious �20million heritage and conservation centre on the Essex and Suffolk border have received support from local businesses.

A planning application for the high-profile Horkesley Park Heritage and Conservation Centre was submitted to Colchester Borough Council last month.

The centre, known as Horkesley Park, is designed to be a “celebration of the English countryside” and would generate more than 200 jobs.


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At a recent meeting the Colchester Committee of the Essex Chambers of Commerce assessed the plans and subsequently gave them its backing.

Stephen Bunting, partner with Bunting and Sons, the firm behind the project, said it was “excellent” news.

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He said: “It's good to hear that they back it unanimously. They represent a lot of businesses and we have always maintained that Horkesley Park will be of benefit to other businesses as well as Horkesley Park.”

Robert Leng, president of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said the centre was “particularly welcome” in the current financial crisis.

He said: “At the March meeting, members were told of the development which will bring a much-needed boost to the rural economy, provide 226 new jobs on site and create employment opportunities for other businesses in the area.”

Mr Leng said the centre would also enhance Colchester as a tourist destination and attract visitors to the area in the build up to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

He said: “The �20m investment was particularly welcomed given the current economic climate.

“The project was seen as an ideal use for the currently derelict former glasshouse site and would help in easing congestion in the Dedham Vale area.”

Despite the new support for the centre, it remains unpopular with some, including the Stour Valley Action Group, which fears the extra traffic it would generate could damage the surrounding area.

They also feel the scheme would “commercialise” what has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Plans for the scheme can be seen at www.horkesleypark.co.uk.

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