Walton: £1m wildlife centre for Naze given green light despite fears
- Credit: Archant
Proposals for a new education and visitor centre at Walton’s Naze have been given the green light despite more than 100 people signing a petition against it.
After almost two hours of debate Tendring District Council’s (TDC) planning committee gave the Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT) scheme the all-clear by seven votes to four on Tuesday night.
The 394 q m single-storey building will be built near the listed Naze Tower and will include landscaping of the site.
John Hall, chief executive of the EWT, said that the £1million project will improve facilities and information available for visitors.
“It is a special site and deserves special facilities,” he said.
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“It is special for its wildlife, plants, insects and reptiles; it is special for the history of Walton.
“The centre is a compact low building and will provide a centre of excellence for education and volunteering, a year round destination to help support the economy of Walton.”
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Members of the planning committee heard that there was a petition signed by 119 people against the plans as well as a number of individual letters.
Residents were mainly concerned about the impact of extra traffic and loss of amenity in terms of noise, light and disturbance.
There was also opposition to the fact that it was a loss of public open space.
The council also received letters from residents and groups supporting the initiative which has applied for Lottery funding.
The scheme had the backing of Frinton and Walton Town Council and the Walton Forum while Essex County Council Highways had no objection and neither did English Heritage, Natural England or the Environment Agency.
Members of the committee heard that the centre had been designed not to change or interfere with the setting of the Naze Tower and would add to its viability.
Having taken into account all the various planning policies and the representations from various parties TDC planning officers recommended the scheme for approval.
Carlo Guglielmi, TDC’s cabinet member for planning and corporate services, said that he felt the right decision was made.
“There were a number of issues that had to be balanced against each other but in the end the benefits outweighed the negatives,” he said.
“I am looking forward to the centre being built for the use and enjoyment of the people of Tendring and further afield.”
After the meeting, Andy Foster, from the Action Against Naze Development group, said there were plans to appeal against the decision.
He said: “There is huge opposition to this scheme – the public don’t want it and neither do a number of the councillors on the committee.
“It will be a blot on the landscape and spoil the views of the tower and the open space on the Naze.”