Chairmans Letter April 2017
You may be relieved to read that I am not going to say anything about Brexit. It is far too early to see what effect this may have, if any, on agriculture and our rural landscape.
The past year has, in part, been one of waiting, with concern, for the publication of Braintree’s and Babergh’s New Local Development Plans. As I explained before, each Council has had to radically revise its house building requirements to meet Government’s demand for a very large increase in new houses. Braintree alone has to provide for around 862 new houses to be built every year until 2031. As a result it has had to withdraw its previous draft Local Plan (then well advanced) and start the consultation processes all over again. Braintree has decided to promote the building of one or more new large scale garden communities (10,000 plus houses), with all modern infrastructure and facilities, and thereby protect the rural villages. You will be aware of the proposed sites for 17,000 plus houses at West Tey and/or 10,000 plus houses at Andrews Airfield, West of Braintree. Although late in the day, there has recently been yet another proposal for at least 5,000 (up to 15,000) houses around Pattiswick, which would ruin this lovely rural part of North Essex. It is still unclear when Braintree will reach a final decision on these sites to go forward into the Development Plan. CAUSE is spearheading the opposition to the West Tey and Monks Wood proposals and has achieved some initial success in its opposition to the West Tey proposal. Anyone interested in more information should access its website at: www.cause4livingessex.com. The latest Government White Paper reinforces its resolve to ensure a quantum leap in the number of new builds.
Connected with any of these developments will have to be the upgrading of the A120. Public consultation is now under way on 5 alternative routes, which will provide a dual carriageway all the way from the A12 to the M11. The consultation can be accessed on the Essex County Council website. Those interested in making their views recorded may decide that the more Southern routes would be less helpful to the West Tey and Monks Wood development.
We have had some success in opposing proposals for an 85 house development in Bures. The site, beside the Colchester Road, was included in the draft Plan. We and the Dedham Vale AONB Project gave evidence at the consultation hearing in Braintree. Not only is the village unable to sustain such a large increase in houses but, if allowed, it would have a damaging effect on the application to extend the AONB. The planning subcommittee voted unanimously to remove the site.
I apologise for dwelling on planning issues, but they do pose the biggest threat to our area. Of particular concern is the position with Braintree in the interim before the new Plan is adopted. Planning applications before then may have to be considered under the current planning framework and policies, which in general support sustainable development without regard to Braintree’s future proposal to relieve the rural villages in favour of these garden communities. In this context I have nothing yet to report on the outstanding Stafford Park application for 122 houses at Liston to which we objected, other than to note that the Environment Agency has withdrawn its objection. Access and its effect on the rural lanes and Liston is still a live issue.
Babergh is adopting a different approach to Braintree; in that, other than major developments around Sudbury and Ipswich, it will support development in a number of identified core villages, rather than go down the route of new large scale “garden developments”; hence all the consternation over the recently permitted development in East Bergholt The progress of Babergh’s draft plan is even further behind that of Braintree.
I touched earlier on the application to extend the AONB. Although the application is on the short list, there is no indication yet when it will be considered by Natural England. It may well be several years off. This reinforces the need to ensure that nothing happens in the meanwhile to prejudice its success. The Project commissioned a very useful report from Alison Farmer evaluating suitability of the area between Bures and Sudbury for AONB status. Indeed it was this report which helped to get the Bures development proposal overturned. If you haven’t already done so, do please complete the Project’s survey to show overwhelming support for the extension, necessary to get this application promoted up the short list.
I have nothing further to report on the Bramford to Twinstead new power line. However, whilst on the topic of energy, you may be aware of the Government’s reduction in subsidies both for onshore wind turbines and solar farms. Although we must be vigilant, it is hoped that we may no longer be troubled by these.
Network Rail has taken it upon itself to try and close as many footpath crossings as possible across the whole of its network. Those of you concerned with its plan to close and reroute the crossing at King’s Farm, Lamarsh, on the Sudbury Marks Tey line, will be pleased to know that after Network Rail was “given a hard time” over this proposal, it has decided to withdraw it, at least for the time being.
Our area covers both the Stour and Colne rivers. Because of money constraints, the Environment Agency is, it seems, cutting back on work, such as clearance of debris, fallen tress, reed cutting, dredging etc. to concentrate on coastal protection and flood defence. The initial impact will be on mill owners and those responsible for weirs and flood-gates, who are unlikely to have the necessary equipment to clear this, resulting in the build up of rubbish and the degradation of the river. The worry is that over time a lot of the charm of these rivers in our area may be lost. If you become affected, do not hesitate to complain to the Agency and take it up with your MP.
Finally, before moving on to more domestic matters affecting the Association, if you are likewise affected by excessive night time flying of aircraft approaching Stansted and Luton, do respond to the night flights consultation by completing the on-line questionnaire at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/J6KX6; or email your response to: email@example.com.
We have been very fortunate this year to have been able to co- opt three new members to the Committee: Alex Robson, Charles Crawshay and Hugh Petre. Apart from the skill and enthusiasm they can bring to your Committee, they are determined to ensure that the Association will engage with the next generation; so important to ensure its continuing success. We are looking to progress this further over the next year. At their suggestion, we are in the process of modernising the website so as to enable new members to join and pay their subscriptions on line, amongst other improvements. An application form for enlisting new members is enclosed for those of us who are less willing to move with the times.
The speaker at this year’s AGM is Mark Mitchels, a retired teacher, who has made a second career for himself, lecturing on a wide variety of subjects. He is very entertaining. Some of us had the privilege of hearing him give an excellent talk on Constable and Gainsborough at the Dedham Vale Society winter lecture. He will be speaking to us on “Characters of East Anglia”.
The Summer Party will be at Stanley Hall on Thursday the 6th July by kind invitation of Christopher and Christie Stewart- Smith. I hope as many of you as possible will be able to come.
I cannot end my letter without thanking Mark Dawson for all he has done over very many years as editor of the magazine; transforming it from a newsletter to the great magazine it is today, as well as for arranging each year’s garden visits. Mark
has done sterling work, but has now reached the time when he wants to give up being editor. We are therefore looking for a replacement or replacements. If anyone is willing to take this over, do please come forward. We will make this as easy as possible. The responsibilities can be shared. Likewise, having organised the garden visits for the past eight years, he would dearly like someone to come forward and take this on.
Thank you again for your continuing support. As an Association we are in relatively good shape, but as always in need of younger members. There are too many households who are unaware of us and what we represent. Any ideas on how we can overcome this will be very helpful.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at one or other of our 2017 functions.
Enjoy the Magazine.
2018 - Read about Hedingham Castle, a new National Centre for Gainsborough in Sudbury, award-winning new Gins from Adnams, aspects of our Industrial Heritage, the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, and take a look at the proposed new Constitution for CSCA..
2016 - Interesting articles on medieval graffiti, farming in the Stour Valley, exploring our AONB, early settlers from the Stour Valley to America, the archaeology of a local farm, a wonderful catalogue of British birds, celebrating a Suffolk joinery business, the weather from a South African winery.