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West Bergholt is a small compact rural parish located to the
north west of Colchester comprising an area of 929 hectares.
Dating back to the 11th century the village was
originally known as Bercolta, later recorded as Bergholt
Sackville, after the Sackville family who held the main manor
from the early 12th century to the 17th
century. The village is recorded in the "Doomsday Book". It was
finally named West Bergholt in the early 20th century
to distinguish it from East Bergholt in Suffolk.
The landscape surrounding the village is attractive and
undulating and is bounded to the south and west by the sloping
valleys of the river Colne and St Botolph's Brook. The north and
east are arable farmlands interspersed with small woodlands.
Indeed, the name Bergholt is derived from the Anglo-Saxon terms
'beorg' meaning hill and 'holt' meaning wood. There are ten
local wildlife sites of importance for nature conservation,
including the famous Hillhouse Wood (owned and administered by
the Woodland Trust) known to many as the 'Bluebell Wood'.
The village has 34 buildings listed for architectural merit.
The only grade 1 listed building is the Church of St Mary in
Hall Road, adjacent to Bergholt Hall. Now redundant, but still
consecrated, the church is used for special services and village
events. The building was originally Saxon in origin.
West Bergholt has evolved into its current form through
circumstances to meet local needs and demands. Historical
development has resulted in the broad shape of the village in
terms of houses and amenities provided to meet the needs of
residents, and this has largely determined the shape of the
settlement boundary which has remained unaltered for many years.
The village has had a largely agricultural heritage and the
population settled at approximately 1200 from 1801 to 1961.
During the 1800's the village was
home to Daniell's brewery which operated successfully until
the 1950's. The new owner, Truman's, operated from the site
until 1989, when it was developed into houses and flats.
The village expanded significantly in the 1960's and 1970's
and currently has a population of 3,344 residents and 1,363
households. The Parish has a large
elderly population compared with Colchester Borough as a
whole. In addition, it has a slightly larger population of
those aged 5 to 17 years. Approximately 20% (675) of residents
are of retirement age compared with 15% at Borough level and
approximately 17% (574) are aged 5 –17 years. This compares
with approximately 14% at Borough level.
The village features the large 400 place Heathlands Primary
School, Bluebells Pre-School and other child and baby care
facilities. There is a Church of England, St Mary the Virgin,
and an additional redundant church, St Mary's Old Church, used
on special occasions. There is a doctors' surgery and a pharmacy
in the village and the general hospital is about 3 miles away.
The village voluntary Care Network has over 20 members who can
be contacted for transport when required. There are two general
stores, one incorporating a post office with access to banking
facilities, a gift shop, hairdressers, and three Public Houses.
There are other commercial outlets including a garage workshop,
shops and business parks.
The venues available for hire for groups to meet include the
Orpen Hall and the attached John Lampon Hall, where there is
parking available. There is a Social Club attached to the Hall
that is open in the evenings and weekends and available for the
public to hire during the daytime. The Parish Church also has
meeting rooms for hire. All are well used. The Lorkin Daniell
Field and Poor's Land are available for recreation and are often
used by the local West Bergholt Football Club and the Bergholt
Heath Youth Football Club respectively.
The Cricket Club has the use of a field off the main
Colchester Road. There is a Multi-Use Games Area on the Lorkin
Daniell Field which is available for hire for tennis and other
sports. The Scout Hut is situated on the Heath by the primary
school and is well used by different groups and activities. The
green field areas can be made available for events. There are 3
areas of children's playground equipment and an area for 140
The Parish has a wonderful mix of undulating farmland with the
beautiful River Colne valley accessed by a network of public
footpaths including public access to ancient woodland. The vast
majority of the parish is rural with agriculture the dominant
feature (both arable and dairy). Within the village, there are
numerous ponds, open spaces and vegetation that complements the
built environment. As a result of a good network of local roads
and Public Rights of Way (PROW), there are numerous
opportunities for the community to enjoy both local environments
within the main village settlement and those close at hand in
the surrounding countryside.
The rural landscape provides some accessible green space such
as Hillhouse Wood and many PROW, including long distance paths
such as the Essex Way. Also, within the settlement boundary is
the Village Green (known as The Heath), pockets of smaller green
space generally within housing areas (amenity greens), the
churchyards and three ponds. The village does not have a formal
public park or garden as such within its boundaries, however
there are some older properties that have significant trees or
hedgerows that contribute to the rural character and
biodiversity value of parts of the village. A few trees are
protected with Tree Preservation Orders. Hedgerows and verges
within villages are generally not protected.
When considering the built environment although there is a mix
of eclectic modern housing styles, the village has nevertheless
a good range of older buildings of architectural value with many
listed buildings including several of both architectural and
The surveys conducted in compiling the Neighbourhood Plan
overwhelmingly revealed that existing public open spaces and
important landscape and wildlife areas were universally valued
and as a result should be protected.
The growth in population in the late 1960s and in the 1980's
was the result of new estates being constructed and a variety of
styles mark this expansion such as those around Lexden Road,
Mumford Road and Pirie Road, as well as the development on the
former Truman's brewery site. More recently there have been
smaller developments usually consisting of four or more
bedroomed detached properties closely positioned on sites within
the settlement boundary.
In preparing the Village Design Statement in 2011 the housing
areas of the village were divided up into character areas to
help distinguish the mixture of vernacular and modern housing
styles and help assess the applicability of housing and
West Bergholt remains a highly desirable village in which to
live. Being situated just outside and to the northwest of
Colchester – Britain's Oldest Recorded Town, West
Bergholt village is conveniently placed for those residents who
work in Colchester and its close proximity to the A12 means that
it is well placed for people who work in Ipswich or Chelmsford.
Being only 2.5 miles from the main railway line into London has
meant that West Bergholt has become an extremely desirable
It was the land released for development in the 1960's, 1970's
and 1980's that marked the most significant increase in housing
numbers within the village. Due to the location of most of the
new estates the village 'look and feel' was maintained with some
supporting improvements to facilities for the community. It has
to be said though that the modern housing design was at odds
with the older housing and although functional the design and
style now looks dated and the housing no longer meets the needs
of the Parish in terms of the mix of tenure and the lack of
The formal Settlement Boundary indicates the boundary inside
which there is a presumption that development will be allowed
(subject to planning permission). The opportunities for such
development are reducing over time and therefore there is likely
to be the need for some additional growth.
It is evident from the consultations undertaken so far,
including the 2008 West Bergholt Parish Plan, that whilst some
wish the village to stay exactly as it is without expansion,
many more envisage a limited and appropriately planned increase
in development providing the types and numbers of new housing to
meet the needs of the Parish whilst maintaining the village
Nowadays, with the decline in agricultural employment, many
residents commute to Colchester for work as well as travelling
to towns such as Ipswich and Chelmsford because of the close
proximity to the A12. It is also a desirable location for those
commuting into London.
In most cases the commercial and employment areas have evolved
over time. As well as two general stores (including a Post
Office in the Co-op), a pharmacy, a hairdresser's, an
accessories shop, three public houses and other commercial
premises there are business parks located in Colchester Road,
Nayland Road, Bourne Road, Fossetts Lane and at Armoury Farm.
These house independent businesses as well as offering some
office space. In addition, there are many small businesses which
operate from people's homes. These all provide local employment
whilst harmonising with village life.
The village currently has use of the following building and
Over the years the Parish Council in its capacity as Trustee
for Charity land, has added to or enhanced the village hall
buildings located in Lexden Road to meet the ever-increasing
demands of a thriving and vibrant village. Booking demand for
the village halls increases annually and these buildings are
used at near full capacity. The expansion of the hall is
essential if future demand over the next 15 years is to be met.
Other community buildings exist and are owned and maintained
by organisations, each being largely self-financing. They
Village open spaces held in trust and managed by the Parish
The cricket pitch and club house are located on privately
owned land and is managed by the Cricket Club
Recreational facilities, the current situation:
Crime in West Bergholt is generally low but with the
withdrawal of neighbourhood policing and regular PCSOs, crime
has been rising. Current snapshots reveal the following
incidence of crime and its composition:
Number of crimes: 3 per month
Typical composition: Theft from Vehicle, Burglary, Antisocial
The parish has an active Neighbourhood Watch scheme in the
village. As a result of neighbourhood policing changes there is
no longer a regular mobile police presence where residents can
seek advice or make their concerns known.
West Bergholt is served by the Local Community Meetings
initiative (LCM) are multi agency problem solving groups,
working alongside the local community to address crime,
anti-social behaviour and quality of life issues.
The village has a very active Community Speed Watch group
(CSW) with resource and equipment being shared with Eight Ash
Green. The CSW group is recorded as being in the top five most
active groups in Essex.
The village also has a Traffic Safety Group educating and
reminding drivers on the importance of safer diving and careful
Snow clearance volunteer teams are in place and the Parish
Council maintain equipment and salt supplies for use by
volunteers. An Emergency Plan for the village has been drawn up
to support Colchester Borough and the emergency services.
Communication in this sense refers to the formal means of
relaying information that the Parish Council needs to undertake,
as well as informal ways to get messages across from differing
interest groups within the village to the population. The key
objective was supported by nearly 98% of the Neighbourhood Plan
There are 4 main channels in which the village communicates;
The full Parish Council meets 10 times a year (excluding the
months of August and December). There is always time set aside
for villagers to air views, ask questions or make comments. The
PC committees meet as frequently prior to the main meeting.
Village residents are welcome to attend the "Environment", the
"Premises" and the "Planning" committees.
The Co-op, pharmacy, pre-school and school are at the centre
of village life and you will often see people informally meeting
and passing the time with friends and family adding to the sense
Village Bulletin and Village Newsletters
The Parish council supports the publication of a quarterly
Village Bulletin which is delivered to all households. A brief,
more up to date "Village Newsletter" is produced periodically
when there is no Bulletin and displayed in the notice boards and
on other sites around the village.
The Parish Council also maintains a number of notice boards
which are kept up to date regularly. In addition, the church and
school have their own newsletters.
West Bergholt Website
westbergholt.net – the website page for the village provides a
calendar of events electronic copies of the bulletin, village
updates, minutes of the council & committee meetings and
details of the parish councillors.
A number of the clubs in West Bergholt have active websites.
The majority of these sites have a good following. The village
website is managed by a third party.
Facebook (note member numbers as of Nov 2018)
West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan page (296 members)–
this provides updates to the community and the progress around
West Bergholt Hub and community page (3305 members) –
this provides advice, adverts, questions and village updates.
West Bergholt and surroundings selling page (2708
members) - this provides a place for locals to see any
West Bergholt latest news (580 members) – this
provides local village updates
There are also a number of Facebook pages for the Cricket
Club, Football Clubs, Parent and Toddler Group, Bergholt Youth
Group and West Bergholt Pharmacy all totalling circa 850
Twitter (note member numbers as of Nov 2018)
- West Bergholt PC (134 followers) – this provides latest news
- West Bergholt CC (455 followers) – this provides updates for
the cricket club
- West Bergholt FC (901 followers) – this provides updates for
the football club
The village has generally good main (B1508) and minor road
connections to the A12, Colchester town centre, the rail
station, Tollgate retail area and towards Sudbury and the rural
Essex-Suffolk border area.
Bus services are provided by two companies, Chambers,
providing an hourly service to Colchester and Sudbury, and First
Bus that operates a 30-minute frequency peak and daytime service
to the town centre via the Rail Station. On Sundays the
frequency of buses drops to two-hourly. School buses serve
the main secondary schools whilst the voluntary Care Network
helps patients attend clinics.
Information gathered during the Parish Plan established the
Typical usage of different modes of transport have been
calculated from a travel diary survey conducted by Essex County
Council some time ago. (ECC 2005)
Bus Train Cycle walk
86% 28% 23% 25% 64%
Popular destinations are: the rail station and adjacent retail
park, town centre, the hospital, access to the A12 and the
Stanway/Tollgate area for retail shopping.