Local Plan

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Representation 1738 on Preferred Options Local Plan by Mrs. E. Appleton

Support / Object: OBJECT
Document Link: Preferred Options Local Plan - Sustainable Settlements, Rowhedge, SS14: Land to the south of Battleswick Farm Rowhedge Road
Representation: With the large development currently under way at the wharf site, there will be NO possible provision for children to be educated within the village, making properties across Rowhedge undesirable to young families. How can transporting children in cars across town at rush hour to the nearest school with a place possibly be what the Planning Department envisions for Colchester's future?

Building on viable green belt farmland, again, how can that be desirable?

Proven and real risk of flooding and water table disturbance to the existing properties within Hillview Close plus total loss of garden and rear property privacy.

Original submission

The Local Planning Committee must reject this proposal on the following grounds:-

The sloping field - the hill which gives Hillview Close its name - has a very steep gradient and acts as a soak-away to rain water, the residual water then draining naturally into Birch Brook. The Brook floods on many occasions following periods of rain and this water then ingresses on the flat rear gardens to the properties at Hillview Close. To grant permission to essentially fill this field of crops with concrete, disturbing natural springs and the water table, would spell disaster for the residents of Hillview Close and make the insuring and re-selling of these properties very difficult.

In addition, at the bottom corners of the field the boundary is extremely close to the properties at 127 and 73 Hillview Close respectively. These properties will suffer from a complete lack of privacy, and all along the 'odd-numbered' side of Hillview Close will lose all garden privacy given the steep gradient of the land. Bungalows that have had loft conversions and Dormer windows added will experience total loss of privacy to their upper bedrooms. This is entirely unacceptable, unfair and renders the properties on both sides of the field undesirable, making the whole exercise a complete waste - nobody is going to want to buy a house in a development in the middle of a steep field with absolutely no privacy (those in Hillview Close will be able to see into their rooms and gardens).

Many planning applications are rejected due to the privacy concerns of neighbouring properties - this is an entire road of residents who will lose their privacy. The Planning Committee must see that this is unacceptable and unfair, particularly considering that the bungalows in Hillview Close were constructed 62 years ago - the same amount of time that the hardworking current tenant farmers have been resident at Battleswick Farm.

The Committee has in its hands a decision that could start a dangerous precedent for the precious remaining rural farm land to East Colchester. We must not lose these precious resources, especially at a time where we have left Europe. Food prices will only get higher and our country needs to be able to use its own land for our own produce, rather than resort to expensive imports.

The Committee must also consider the enormous strain placed upon Colchester General Hospital and schools across the town, all of which are struggling to accommodate children from the immediate vicinity. The Local Plan aims to make considered decisions about the future of Colchester but I cannot assert enough that the answer is NOT in building on viable farmland. The site at Battleswick Farm is totally unsuitable for development.

The Planning Committee also needs to consider our valuable small village schools, an excellent example of which is to be found in Rowhedge; St Lawrence C of E Primary School. All classes up to Year 4 are now almost full, with numbers in the high 20's, and will certainly not be able to provide places for all of the children who will arrive with the development at Rowhedge Wharf, some 170 houses that are under construction, with planning permission being sought for a further 86. Even based on just one child per property, there is no room within the village school for these children to be educated within the village in which they live. It would be absolute insanity to then grant further permission for another development within the village, where there is no possibility of the children of these households - or future children any other households - being able to attend St Lawrence. We have recently experienced a new arrival of a family who purchased a house within sight of St Lawrence but were unable to get a place within the school.

Old Heath School is also full - the overspill from which contributing to the current status of St Lawrence - and many of the surrounding schools are oversubscribed and operating two classes per year group on very cramped sites. Colchester is facing an enormous education disaster as a result of over-expansion; small yet destructive developments such as the proposal to build on Battleswick Farm should never be granted where there is entirely no prospect of local, walking distance education provision. Parents will be forced to resort to using their cars, at rush hour, in order to transport their children potentially miles to their nearest available school place. This is unhealthy - at a time where childhood obesity is a ticking time-bomb for our overburdened NHS - and is extremely damaging to the environment, at a time where we are encouraged to be as carbon-neutral as possible.

How can this possibly be what the Planning Department wants for the future of Colchester?

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