Campaigners protest against homes plan
PROTESTERS have expressed their “disgust” at a planned housing development for a congested Essex town. A group of about 50 people carrying banners declaring “Trees not Tarmac” gathered in Cowdray Avenue in Colchester where 120 houses and flats are to be built.
PROTESTERS have expressed their “disgust” at a planned housing development for a congested Essex town.
A group of about 50 people carrying banners declaring “Trees not Tarmac” gathered in Cowdray Avenue in Colchester where 120 houses and flats are to be built.
Colchester Borough Council initially rejected plans for 150 homes on the flood plain adjacent to the River Colne, but its decision was overturned by Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, after a local planning inquiry.
The Persimmon Homes site will also add another junction onto the busy road and will see a row of mature trees felled when building work begins next autumn.
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The protesters were joined in the rain by Colchester MP Bob Russell and many of the passing cars hooted in support.
The demonstration was organised by the Colchester Green Party, which admitted there was little hope of stopping the development, but said it wanted to draw attention to the town's quickly disappearing green sites.
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Spokesman, Peter Lynn, said: “Considering the weather, we have been very pleased with the turnout - we knew there was a lot of support for the issue.
“Residents are upset about losing one of the last remaining areas of green space so close to the town centre.
“To build here is folly as it is a flood plain and the only access is onto an already-congested road. “Furthermore, the wildlife along this stretch of river will suffer. There are otters, bats, bees and several species of rare and interesting birds.
“As anyone who walks along the river side regularly will know, kingfishers can often be spotted. I wonder if we will see them any more once the houses are built?”
Colchester resident Carol Nelson was among the protesters and said she was “sick” of all the new building in the town.
She said: “This is a nice environmental area for wildlife and there is already enough building going on in Colchester.
“I cycle up here and this will lead to gridlock and also I have seen this site looking like a lake when there has been a lot of rain - this will just ruin everything.”
The revised application, submitted to the planning inquiry in July, will have a larger area between the homes and the east end of the development which is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
The homes, which will cover about two acres of the 3.7-acre site, will also have a riverside walk and cycle path running by.
Paul Gibbs, development director for Persimmon Homes Essex, said: “With regard to Cowdray Avenue, the overwhelming opinion of the Professional Independent Inspector was that our housing proposition was of great benefit to the area in terms of appearance, ecological merit and the huge package of advantages for the local community.
“Indeed the residential element of the site will only make up 35 % of the entire area with the rest being assigned to public open space and the nature reserve.”
He also said the inspector concluded Colchester needed more affordable housing for local people and said the residential part of the site was not in the flood plain.