Heritage centre plans are withdrawn

CONTROVERSIAL plans to create a £20million country heritage park on the edge of the Stour valley have been withdrawn following a raft of objections and technical queries from both residents and organisations.

By Roddy Ashworth

CONTROVERSIAL plans to create a £20million country heritage park on the edge of the Stour valley have been withdrawn following a raft of objections and technical queries from both residents and organisations.

But yesterday Stephen Bunting, one of the main figures behind the proposals for the Horkesley Park Heritage and Conservation Centre, said they would be resubmitted later in the year after the issues raised had been dealt with.

Landowners Bunting and Son want to turn the 117-acre Horkesely park site in Great Horkesley, near Colchester, into a visitor attraction focusing on rural traditions and produce.


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This would include an art gallery, restaurants, a Suffolk Punch breeding centre and a celebration of the life and works of the artist John Constable, who famously painted in the area.

Detailed plans for the large rural development were lodged with Colchester Borough Council in September last year, but yesterday Mr Bunting confirmed that they had been withdrawn.

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He said that this was because of a large amount of queries and objections from statutory bodies - such as the Environment Agency and the National Trust - as well as local people and groups who had been consulted about the application.

Mr Bunting stressed he felt sure none of these were insurmountable or would fundamentally affect the existing plans, but because of the range and number of issues raised he felt it better to encompass the relevant amendments and assurances in a further application.

“There are a lot of technical things and this represents additional work for our team to complete,” he said.

“This is a large scheme and there are a large number of minor problems and queries that need addressing as it is evaluated.

“Rather than deal with it piecemeal, it is judged better to withdraw the current planning application now to enable everything to be undertaken in a cohesive manner.”

Mr Bunting also said this approach would allow the recently published Local Development Framework 2006-2021 - a Colchester Borough Council strategy document on the future of the area - to be taken into account.

He added that there had been no major problems raised with the traffic assessment submitted with the application, but that some details needed to be altered and addressed.

“The things which have substance which have been brought up will be dealt with. But the question of the project clogging up the roads was never right in the first place,” he said.

“I want to stress that the Horkesley Park scheme itself is pressing ahead with a full head of steam - it is simply this particular application relating to it that has been withdrawn.”

Yesterday Will Pavry, of the Stour Valley Action Group, an organisation against the development, said: “The Stour Valley Action Group are delighted to see they have withdrawn the application at this stage. However, we have a remaining concern that there are a number of issues to sort out in the future.

“We do believe that Bunting and Sons must now be aware of the very strong opposition that has been manifest locally, and appeared in both the local and national Press.

“We hope that some of the messages we have been putting across have come to their attention, and that they will take them into account in any revised application.”

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