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I am absolutely opposed to this proposal for the following reasons:-
Education - NO provision has been made to accommodate the children from the development currently under construction at the former wharf site. Within a year, the school will be full and closed to existing children in the village as well as those living at the new wharf houses. Therefore planners would be highly irresponsible to approve any additional developments within the village. For this reason alone, this proposal should have not been approved thus far by the Local Planning Committee - the school will be oversubscribed by the start of the academic year in 2017. Old Heath School is oversubscribed at present and so therefore unable to accept any overspill from Rowhedge.
Traffic and Employment: In addition to oversubscribed schools meaning that parents will have to travel to the nearest available school, adding to traffic, the Local Planning Committee need to be aware that there are very little employment opportunities within the village and immediate surrounding areas - a very high percentage of Rowhedge residents have to travel via car or public transport via the residential streets of East Colchester - which are woefully under-equipped for the volume of traffic - to reach their places of work at rush hour times. The Local Plan Committee needs to consider those who live along these roads; particularly those in New Town, Military Road and Old Heath Road, all narrow residential roads.
The fact that it is unavoidable to travel past Old Heath School also needs to be considered.
Whitehall Road, Haven Road and the bridge and roundabouts approaching Greenstead usually take at least half an hour to travel through at peak times - these roads cannot be widened any further, be bypassed or relieved in any way. The East of Colchester soon becomes a 'dead end', culminating in Mersea Island - therefore it is not suitable for additional developments in the same way that the West or North are. These areas also have far greater provision for education and employment.
Environment and Flooding risks:
The open green space at Battleswick Farm provides a welcome relief from the increasing mass of Colchester town, and is a natural border between Old Heath and Rowhedge. These open fields, protected by the Greenbelt policy, should be protected against any development. Allowing houses on a farm site opens up a precedent for applications from other farmland owners, and for the additional fields that make up and surround the farm.
Battleswick Farm provides a habitiat to many varieties of wildlife, including badgers, foxes, water voles in Birch Brook, owls, wood mice and many varieties of birds. The destruction of many of these habitats will be disastrous for the wildlife of the Farm. "Just" 60 houses is still a lot of destruction of natural hedgerow and valuable farmland - provision for sewage and waste water alone will see the excavation of surrounding
In recent years Birch Brook has flooded with almost every heavy rainfall, resulting in flooded gardens to the properties of those bordering it in Hillview Close, and flooding to the road at Marsh Crescent, one of two main roads out of Rowhedge and one frequently used by buses. The Brook then continues on through marsh fields and out into the River Colne.
The field in question, being heavily sloped, adds additional water to the Brook but also provides a vital natural soak-away for rain water - blocking this natural flow with a housing estate will put the Brook under unacceptable strain and put the gardens and properties at Hillview Close at further risk of flood damage.
Rowhedge as a whole has a large number of natural springs running through it - it is highly likely that there will also be natural springs running through the fields of Battleswick Farm; again putting the properties bordering the farm at Hillview Close at additional risk of flooding - who will pay for the insurance claims arising from this damage? It is entirely unfair on existing residents to approve such deliberate destruction of the countryside.
Privacy: The Local Planning Committee needs to consider the rights of those living along the lower part of Rowhedge Road, whose gardens are at the same level as the field, and the fact that Rowhedge Road, and the field, becomes a triangle to the end of Hillview Close - how will the privacy rights of these properties be protected, given the triangular shape of this part of the field?
Turning to Hillview Close, many of these properties back out onto the field in question, and have only the natural border of Birch Brook and a vegetation shield naturally grown to protect their gardens from insecticides sprayed by the farmer, as well as minimising dust at harvest time. This vegetation shield naturally dies down in winter and will not provide any kind of privacy barrier for those on either side of the field.
The Local Planning Committee need to be aware that the field under consideration is very steep, far steeper than can be judged via an aerial plan. Building houses on a plot of land of this gradient will result in a total loss of rear garden and house privacy to those living along the bordering part of Hillview Close, to those living on the opposite side of Hillview Close and, indeed, to those living in the "new" houses - everyone will be able to see in to each other's properties.
Many of these bungalows have rear Dormer windows to the roof, and all have living accomodation to the rear; upper bedrooms, lounges, kitchens and conservatories will be viewable from the steep gradient of the field. Many properties have only 40 feet of grass making up a boundary to the field - to some properties, the border of the field reduces this boundary to 10 feet, particularly the property boundary at 127 Hillview Close.
In addition to these points I would also like to make the Committee aware that the farm is a very viable crop business that has been worked by the same family for 60 years. It is not, unlike the brown field site that made up the wharf, a redundant eyesore that is hidden away from other residential properties. Houses should not be shoehorned onto this field.
I hope that the Local Planning Committee considers the very valid points made by highly concerned Rowhedge residents in the 100+ objections that proceed mine. With these points in mind the Committee must conclude that the field in question is wholly unsuitable for residential development, and take the decision to protect Battleswick Farm from any further applications.