Uni's bid to build on farmland opposed

A UNIVERSITY'S vision to build housing on farmland which is the last remaining green belt between two towns has come under fire.

James Hore

A UNIVERSITY'S vision to build housing on farmland which is the last remaining green belt between two towns has come under fire.

Many residents in Wivenhoe regard the agricultural space between the town and nearby Colchester as vital for protecting the community from becoming a suburb of its larger neighbour.

But the EADT can reveal that a long-term plan from Essex University could see the green belt transformed into both houses and sporting facilities.

Last night the university said it wanted to secure the space for “potential future expansion”, claiming it does not have any detailed plans.

Under the name of the Wivenhoe Consortium, it has joined forces with the owner of the green belt to submit its scheme.

Most Read

The majority of the land would be for sporting use, but houses are incorporated into the design, close to the fire station, to help finance the development should it go-ahead.

Representatives from the consortium will submit the ideas to Colchester Borough Council, which is finalising its “local development framework” - a long term vision of which land can and cannot be developed.

But Wivenhoe town councillor, Peter Hill, said: “Councillors like myself for years have been campaigning for the green wedge to be maintained.

“Psychologically it is very important to us that we don't find ourselves connected to the borough, even if there are sporting facilities there.

“I can understand why the university want to do it and do not blame them and if the landowner can increase the value of his land by say 100 times, I do not blame him for wanting to do that.”

Jenny Grinter, head of communications at the university, said there were no detailed plans at this stage.

She said: “We are looking to preserve both the long-term future of the university and the character of the land between the campus and Wivenhoe.

“Our submission to Colchester Borough Council's Core Strategy would allow for future expansion of the university, should it be needed.

“It would preserve the open nature of the land by using it predominantly for sports and leisure with only a modest amount of development.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter