Council move over farmland sale

VILLAGERS upset after a speculator bought some fields and fenced them off for sale in separate plots have welcomed a council crackdown on development on the land.

VILLAGERS upset after a speculator bought some fields and fenced them off for sale in separate plots have welcomed a council crackdown on development on the land.

Gladwish Land Sales bought 47 acres of land in Stisted, near Braintree, and has now divided them into 238 individual plots which are on sale on the internet for between £3,000 and £6,000 each.

So far the company has sold 64 plots, with many potential buyers interested in many more.

All of the land was sold as agricultural pasture. None of it has planning permission, but villagers are worried about the possibility of future development and fear sheds and caravans might be put on it in the meantime.

But now Braintree District Council has served a restriction notice on the land preventing fencing, temporary buildings or uses without first obtaining planning permission. These types of development could normally be carried out without the need to obtain permission from the council.

A councils spokesman said: "The move should help allay concerns expressed by local people and seek to prevent development which would spoil the local environment."

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Stisted villager John Clark said: "We are delighted with the speed Braintree District Council have reacted to our problem. It needs central government legislation to counteract these land deals."

Farmer Edward May had wanted to buy the land to extend his farm which adjoins the Gladwish fields. He welcomed the action taken by Braintree council.

"It's a great help. It will stop people doing things which it's not meant for. It's never going to be a clean and tidy place," he said.

Victor Gladwish, of Gladwish Land Sales, said the restriction notice was not a problem.

"It's only a concern for genuine buyers or agricultural land. Those people have to request permission to put a fence up to contain animals. Anybody else doesn't need a fence."

A spokesman for the Council for the Protection of Rural Essex (CPREssex)

said: "CPREssex is concerned by the damage that could be caused to the Essex countryside by 'Plotland' type developments.

The spokesman warned that such plots come without planning permission and said that unless action is taken there is a risk parts of the Essex countryside could be covered with fences, sheds and hard standing.

"CPREssex is worried that the latest sale of plots at Stisted, near Braintree, could lead to a change to the open nature of a Special Landscape Area.

"In the past, such plot developments in other parts of Essex have led to a network of dirt tracks (some laid with hardcore), fences, other boundaries, sheds, animal shelters and caravans."

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