Business park plan is rejected

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new business park in the Essex countryside have been rejected by the Government.

Elliot Furniss

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new business park in the Essex countryside have been rejected by the Government.

The development at Horsley Cross, near Manningtree, was turned down by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government after a public inquiry.

The site would have provided hundreds of jobs for the area and seen businesses from Harwich relocate there in order to expand their operations.

While there was strong support for the plans from some quarters, there remained fierce opposition to the application from those who felt it would generate extra traffic and damage the environment.

Although the planning inspector's report offered support for the application and noted the benefits it would bring, it found that the scheme was contrary to the local development plan and would be “out of character” with the area.

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After hearing the news, Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for North Essex, said it was a “huge slap in the face” for Tendring District Council, the planning authority that had originally approved the application both in 2006 and then again earlier this year after they were altered.

He said: “They need to go back to the drawing board and listen to what the businesses of Harwich want. I'm not in the least bit surprised that it's been turned down by the Secretary of State.

“The real issue here is the lack of development land, particularly in Harwich, for commercial use.”

David Lines, the council's leader, said the refusal was a disappointing setback but felt the council would benefit from the “exercise” and the feedback from the secretary of state.

He said: “Certainly any development of this nature creates controversy and we have got very conflicting requirements.

“I can understand fully the wishes of those who wish to protect the countryside but, against that, these people have sons and daughters who require jobs and these are the conflicts we have to deal with.

“It highlights the major issues that face Tendring. In terms of creating improvement land, the decision is very disappointing.”

The application put forward a new 80-bedroom hotel and six business plots on a site just south of the A120, but the report concluded that the proposals were contrary to the development plan in “numerous and substantial ways”.

Gary Rowe, representing the seven-company consortium behind the application, said: “It's a setback, there's no doubt about that, but there's a lot of heart to be taken from the comments the inspectors made and all of the evidence we gave in the inquiry wasn't contested and the inspectors agreed with us.

“The council could not have been more supportive than they were by the time we went to the inquiry. We're going to work with the council to make sure they maintain their support.”