Grounds of 10-bedroom stately home could become giant play park

The Quarters Behind Alresford Hall, painted by John Constable in 1814. Close to the proposed childre

The Quarters Behind Alresford Hall, painted by John Constable in 1814. Close to the proposed children's play park, the 'little fishing house' - as described by Constable in his letters - is still in perfect condition more than 200 years later - Credit: PUBLIC DOMAIN

A picturesque scene painted by artist John Constable and a Grade-II listed property could be threatened by plans for a children’s play area in Essex.

Sixpenny Brook and The Quarters, which was painted by John Constable in 1816. A 200-acre play park c

Sixpenny Brook and The Quarters, which was painted by John Constable in 1816. A 200-acre play park could be built next to it Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

The planning application was submitted to Tendring District Council in December 2019, covering 200 acres of land east of Alresford Hall, a 10-bedroom and 10-bathroom stately home just outside of Alresford, Essex.

The house and grounds were purchased in 2010 by the couple who submitted the plans.

Extending over woodland and former agricultural land, the plans outline several different 'enchanted' play areas for children under the age of 12, including a castle, a dragon-themed water park, labyrinth and a wishing well.

A 150-space car park will also be built, with access from the B1027 to Colchester.

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The plans are proving divisive and public feedback has been split, with those opposing it concerned the play park will damage the ecology and environment, as well as infringe on the historical importance of the hall and nearby listed building, The Quarters.

A Grade II*-listed waterside hut at Sixpenny Brook, The Quarters, appear in an 1816 John Constable painting, described by the artist as a 'little fishing house', and has been unchanged for more than 200 years.

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While the development would be close by, they do not prevent the public accessing The Quarters.

David Andrews, of Church Lane, Braintree, objected to the plans. He said: "These buildings, and the landscape, are part of an historic ensemble with the hall.

"Their setting will be damaged, as will that of the listed buildings at the hall, in particular by a loss of tranquillity, an essential feature of this picturesque landscape.

"With the presence of tens of thousands of people a year, and 200 car movements a day, only a few hundred metres away, it could not be otherwise."

Sarah Wright, who lives on the B1027 close to the proposed park, also objected, adding: "There are numerous community projects in north Essex and I don't see the need for a further one in the area, particularly as it will have a huge detrimental effect on the environment, the wildlife and pollution.

"This is definitely not a project that is giving back to the community, but certainly would be taking a great deal away from the community in terms of the detriment to the natural environment and wild life."

However, those in support of the development are happy to see the land used in the interest of the children and families living in the area.

Drew Scallop, of Harsnett Road in Colchester, said: "As a father of two children living in Colchester, I fully support this application.

"Too many children spend every spare moment with their eyes glued to mobile phones, game consoles, and computer screens.

"While my wife and I have worked hard to provide a variety of outdoor choices for our children, at present we find the need to travel outside the local area for an experience anything like the proposed development."

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