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1. Effect on Character of Neighbourhood (built environment)
Development of land to the west of Hall Road will have a damaging effect on the character of the immediate neighbourhood. The site is on agricultural land, bordered on one side by low density, non industrial housing. There are at least 4 Grade II listed buildings in close proximity, one of which, Brewers Cottage is mentioned in the planning proposal as requiring sensitive treatment. This area of Copford, extending to number 45 on the south side, like that of Copford Green is characterised by its traditional low density ribbon housing and by the rural and agricultural landscape.
2. Effect onCharacter of Neighbourhood (natural environment)
The proposed site off Hall Road abuts the conservation area of The Roman River Valley. Colchester Borough Council's own documents describe the Historic Landscape Character of this area "The fieldscape is ancient in origin with current and former valley bottom pasture, irregular fields, and areas of 19th-20th century plantation woodland".
One boundary of the proposed site is marked by the ancient footpath leading from the Old Rectory on London Road to St Michael's Church Copford.
The low density housing which has developed organically along the London Road has uninterrupted views across ancient fields to Gravel Pit Wood.
Gravelpit Wood, also known as Copford Pits Wood, is designated as a Local Wildlife Site (LoWS) and lies close to the southern boundary of the proposed site. The site is not ancient, but satisfies the definition of the Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland Habitat of Principal Importance in England. "LoWS represent the minimum habitat we need to protect in order to maintain the current levels of wildlife in Essex". LoWS are a 'material consideration' in the determination of planning applications. We argue that the development of this site will seriously degrade the wildlife habitat of this LoWS.
There will also be destruction of established hedgerows along Hall Road, serious harm to an ancient oak tree and loss of the nesting habitat of a pair of skylarks, already an endangered species.
Gravelpit Wood is also the site of a World War 2, British Resistance hideout which is important in the assessment of World War Two defence archaeology. The impact of high density housing so close by can only accelerated deterioration.
It has already been noted in the planning documents that the proposed development site may be of archaeological significance.
As part of this historic and rural environment Hall Road is a narrow country lane bounded by established hedgerows and trees (including mature oaks) leading to the Church and Hall, If development of the proposed site is allowed the character of the lane will be lost along with vegetation and wildlife habitats, including skylarks, to make an access road suitable for 50 houses.
This natural and traditional landscape is a public amenity which is enjoyed not just by those residents of this part of Copford village but by a large number of walkers, runners, cyclists and dog walkers throughout the day.
3. Adverse effect on the residential amenity of neighbours on the south side of London Road.
This low density housing, mainly of late Victorian cottages but including Brewers Cottage a Grade II Listed building, has enjoyed uninterrupted views across rural farmland at least since the late 17th century. This proposed development will seriously impact the residential amenity of existing properties in terms of visual impact and effect on the character of the neighbourhood.
4. Affects the setting of a Listed Building.
The proposed development will destroy the traditional setting of brewers Cottage which is a Grade II Listed Building dating from the 17th century. Brewers Cottage is organically placed in a built environment of ribbon development, not with mass housing behind it. Brewers Cottage has overlooked open farmland for hundreds of years as is appropriate for a vernacular building of this type and building houses behind it will destroy that traditional setting. Preserving this setting is of historic importance as part of the village character. This development would affect the setting of Brewers Cottage in particular and it is difficult to see how this could be minimised given that the land rises from the London Road towards Gravel Pit Wood. We believe such a development would adversely affect the setting of this Listed Building.
5. The development would adversely affect highway safety or the convenience of road users.
Hall Road is a narrow road which carries little vehicular traffic (except for access by Anglian Water to the Sewage Treatment Works) but is heavily used by walkers, runners, cyclists and dog walkers; most of these are local villagers. Given the poor access to and from the London Road we believe that safe pedestrian access is of utmost importance and it is difficult to see how there can be safe separation of foot from vehicular traffic.
6. Unacceptably high density/overdevelopment of the site.
It will involve loss of the open aspect of the neighbourhood, have a visual impact on the neighbourhood significantly altering the character of the neighbourhood. It is out of character in terms of density compared with existing density in the vicinity, and would lead to loss of existing views from neighbouring properties which would adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbouring owners.
7. Unnecessary to develop this site
It is unnecessary to develop this site when better use could be made of existing brownfield sites within the village or by expanding the proposed development on the Queensberry Estate which has better infrastructure and is closer to the school, stations and the A12