Heritage park plan faces new protest

A GROUP of farmers has united to oppose controversial plans for a heritage park in the heart of the Stour Valley. Developers Bunting and Sons are hoping to transform the 120-acre Horkesley Park site into a £20 million tourist attraction on the Essex / Suffolk border.

A GROUP of farmers has united to oppose controversial plans for a heritage park in the heart of the Stour Valley.

Developers Bunting and Sons are hoping to transform the 120-acre Horkesley Park site into a £20 million tourist attraction on the Essex / Suffolk border.

If it gets the green-light there would be a John Constable interactive exhibition, Chinese gardens and a country park and leisure complex.

But objectors have claimed the plans are little more than a retail development in one of the most tranquil parts of the country.


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A group of farmers from the Stour Valley has written an open letter to Colchester Borough Council - which will decide if the planning application is successful - saying the development would ruin the character of the area.

The 15 farmers said the “theme park” would leave small businesses under threat and affect agriculture.

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The open letter states: “Many local farmers and landowners have over the past 50 years invested a considerable amount of hard work, not to mention time and money, making the Stour Valley the peaceful, beautiful area it is today; this is an ongoing process.

“Woods and spinneys have been planted and permanent conservation areas have been created, all of which we think have added considerably to the beauty of the Stour Valley.

“This does apparently give many people immense and continual pleasure and we are not prepared to see it spoilt by a theme park or worse.”

The farmers also believe the increased traffic from the heritage park would result in gridlock on the roads, causing major problems especially at harvest time.

But Bunting and Sons has pledged the park will have an immense benefit on the area, leading to regeneration and rejuvenation of the countryside.

Partner Steven Bunting has stated: “We do not believe those prophesising doom and gloom can have read any of the assessments and other studies, least of all their positive conclusions.

“It is absolute nonsense for anyone to claim that Horkesley Park is going to be anything other than a wonderful heritage and conservation centre.

“It will provide good quality full-time and part-time jobs for people in the area and will certainly boost local business.

“The environmental impact assessments undertaken during the last two years by a team of national specialists are emphatic in their conclusions that Horkesley Park will provide a raft of benefits with no significant adverse effects.”

A planning application for Horkesley Park has been submitted and will be considered in the next few months.

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