Fears over heritage park plans

THE head of a campaign group fighting plans for a £20 million heritage park last night claimed the venture might could the way for a nightclub or a casino.

THE head of a campaign group fighting plans for a £20 million heritage park last night claimed the venture might could the way for a nightclub or a casino.

More than 200 people packed into Nayland Village Hall to attend a public meeting organised by the Stour Valley Action Group, which is combating moves by Great Horkesley-based developers Bunting and Sons' vision of creating a heritage park at the 120-acre Horkesley Park.

A leaflet war is set to begin with Bunting and Sons already distributing hundreds of fact sheets in the area north of Colchester and the action group preparing its own literature for distribution.

At Colchester Borough Council's planning office, 36 letters have been lodged in favour of the proposals and 47 against them, as of Friday last week.

Landowners Bunting and Sons claim the development, if it went ahead, would mean 182 new jobs at the centre and an extra 280 jobs created in the area as a knock on effect of the project.

The plans include a garden centre, an art gallery, restaurants and eateries, a Suffolk Punch breeding centre and a John Constable exhibition.

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But Will Pavry, chairman of Stour Valley Action Group, claimed if the plans were approved by Colchester Borough Council, then a casino or nightclub might follow.

He said: “We perhaps exaggerate this, but the planning usage D2 (which the designation being sought for the centre) does cover such a wide range of uses. Most forms of entertainment could be carried out on the site.”

Mr Pavry branded the Bunting and Sons' claims about the new jobs a “sham” suggesting most of the jobs would be given to people outside the Great Horkesley area.

Fellow action group member Roger Drury said: “I regard this as being the biggest disaster that has hit the area in years. We are in for a long war.”

Residents from Great Horkesley at the meeting raised concerns ranging from extra traffic and noise in the area to fears about the impact of the proposed heritage centre on existing jobs and business in the area.

Kate Charlton-Jones, another action group member, called on residents to write letters to the council if they objected to the proposals. She said that, so far, there had not been as many letters objecting to the proposals as she had anticipated but added she knew of at least 40 people who were yet to write.

The EADT was unable to contact Bunting and Sons partner Stephen Bunting last night.

However Mr Bunting has previously described suggestions made by the action group against his heritage centre plans as “absolute nonsense”, adding: “A tremendous amount of effort has gone into producing an in-depth, very comprehensive environmental statement, which addresses a wide range of issues.

“We very much respect the views of local people, whose comments were taken fully into account when preparing the submission.”

He also claimed the proposals would not lead to the types of traffic peaks associated with other visitor centres.

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