Great Horkesley: Objections over Stour Valley visitor centre plans

CAMPAIGNERS have voiced their opposition to a revised visitor centre in the middle of the Essex countryside.

Bunting & Sons has submitted a new planning application for the Stour Valley Visitor Centre at Horkesley Park – a �25million attraction which includes a demonstration nursery and gardens, indoor display ring and production kitchen.

The new plans have removed all buildings from the AONB and the retail space has been cut by 80% following an unsuccessful application made to Colchester Borough Council last year.

But the Stour Valley Action Group say the development would bring increased traffic to the area and destroy the peace and tranquillity of the AONB.

At a meeting held in Little Horkesley Village Hall last week, more than 100 members of the action group turned out to voice their concerns.

Chairman Will Pavry said: “There is no need for any of the major elements of Horkesley Park. All the elements are available elsewhere in East Anglia at other attractions or, in the case of the open countryside, freely available for all in the Stour Valley.

“And the question of unacceptable increase in traffic on minor roads in particular has not been properly addressed.”

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He said that if approved, it would be a “Trojan horse” for further retail exploitation of the site if it fails in its present form.

Bunting & Sons appointed UK architect of the year Sir Michael Hopkins to redesign the centre which now projects smaller annual visitor numbers, from 485,000 to 316,000.

Mr Pavry added: “Visitor numbers have no believable rationale behind them. Studies show that they are more likely to be close to 150,000 rather than the 316,250 claimed.”

Partner of Bunting & Sons, Kate Bunting, said: “Everyone is entitled to express their opinions, however, it is a great shame that the group has such jaundiced views about the scheme which the vast majority of people just do not share. We believe the Stour Valley Action Group has a completely false impression of what Horkesley Park will be like and is going to stick to that come what may. Statements such as the proposals being a ‘Trojan horse’ are simply nonsense.”