St Osyth Priory: Anti-development campaigners get MP’s backing

A CAMPAIGN group which is battling plans for a large housing development to help fund the restoration of St Osyth Priory has received the backing of an MP.

Douglas Carswell, who represents Clacton and Harwich, told members of Save Our St Oysth (SOS) that he would help them in their fight against proposals to build 190 houses on protected priory grounds.

The MP congratulated the group on their efforts, adding: “The SOS campaign has been very high profile. Well done. Local villagers have a right to have their voice heard.

“I will do all I can to advise and support your efforts to make sure local people are listened to.

“I support your efforts to keep St Osyth special and your campaign is helping to mobilise people.”


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St Osyth Priory is more than 900 years old and comprises 22 separate listed buildings as well as a number of Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Owners, the Sargeant family, have estimated that the repair bill for the Priory is in the region of �30 million and they hope to raise the cash through the building project.

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Chairman of SOS, Bev Lynn, welcomed Mr Carswell’s support and said it was great for the morale of everyone in the campaign group.

“Initially we were told that the family wanted to build 190 homes on land off Mill Street, but now we have learnt that they are also looking at an additional 200 houses off Colchester Road,” said Mrs Lynn.

“We want the Priory to be preserved and repaired, but a development of nearly 400 homes is too high a price for the village which would be destroyed.

“St Osyth is an historic village which is in a designated conservation area and needs to be protected.

“The housing development would raise some money for the restoration of the Priory, but no where near the amount that is needed. This is completely the wrong way to go about it.”

The Sargeant family, who are the majority shareholders in City & Country Group which specialises in the restoration and conservation of historic properties, purchased the Priory in 1999 and have said they have spent more than �2 million on the estate.

The family could not be contacted yesterday, but in a statement on their website they said the 190-home development would be an “efficient generator of funds” and would “enable the Priory to be restored and opened to the public”.

It added that the proposals would bring considerable local benefits in terms of facilities, employment, education and business to the village.

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