Heritage centre plans back on

CONTROVERSIAL proposals for a multi-million pound countryside and heritage centre in the heart of the Stour Valley are to be submitted again, the EADT can reveal.

CONTROVERSIAL proposals for a multi-million pound countryside and heritage centre in the heart of the Stour Valley are to be submitted again, the EADT can reveal.

Plans for a John Constable Countryside and Heritage Centre at Great Horkesley were originally put forward by Bunting and Sons in 2001.

But the project was withdrawn amid opposition from residents angry about the scale of the design and the impact it could have on the countryside.

Yesterday Stephen Bunting, the man behind the idea, confirmed an environmental impact assessment for the revised Horkesley Park Heritage and Conservation centre was nearing completion and would be submitted later this year as part of new planning application.


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Exact details of the new application have yet to be made public although it is thought the project would be large enough to create more than 100 jobs in the area.

Like the previous plans, it is believed the attraction may include a focus on the life of East Anglian artist John Constable, as well as celebrate the rural heritage of the area.

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But yesterday, the Stour Valley Action Group, formed in response to the original scheme, said it would oppose the park.

They have sent thousands of letters to residents in the villages in the surrounding area warning of a new threat.

A recent meeting held by the group attracted more than 50 people wanting to know the latest developments.

Chairman Will Pavry, said: "It was re-submitted in 2003, but never formally lodged by the council, but we were extremely concerned that there was a very large garden centre and large restaurant facility cloaked within the countryside park and there would be well over half a million people a year needed to make it viable.

"We are very concerned that this would have a large impact on what is an extremely quiet area, and there is concern from not just the people loving locally but from the surrounding villages."

He said more than 400 people were on the group's mailing list, highlighting the level of concern felt.

But yesterday Mr Bunting said: "The studies we were asked to conduct are almost complete and the full set of these, together with the environment statement will be submitted in the coming Autumn.

"Our theme, and we definitely do have a theme over there, is a celebration of the English countryside, with heritage and conservation, so it is all to do with that, not the Alton Towers, hurdy gurdies, which people normally conjure up to be a theme park – but we do have a theme.

"What I would ask, is for people to have a good look at it and make up their own minds not to be persuaded by others. It is a great scheme which will benefit so many people."

He said the environmental statement would consider issues such as ecology.

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