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Following my recent awareness of the council plan to provide significant development to West Mersea, I find it necessary to raise my objections to the significant development plans on account of the following points;
Lack of Roadway/Transport Infrastructure:
The existing roadways providing access and egress in and out of West Mersea already exhibit periods of significant congestion during peak periods and at weekends and I believe that the significant development proposed will significantly increase congestion in and around the island to unacceptable levels. With consideration to the tidal restrictions also, the additional development proposed will give rise to significant additional traffic congestion and delays during times when roadways are covered, this will have significant impact on the local environment and journey times both leaving and returning to the island.
I would consider that Colchester has already received huge development and population growth in the last 10-15 years and congestion in and around the town is a significant and increasing problem which is still to be improved. It is my view that the transport infrastructure of Colchester has not been sufficiently developed in tandem with the significant developments. The current plans will continue to significantly increase the population in Colchester. Given the current traffic problems it must be a priority to significantly improve the existing infrastructure in Colchester ahead of any significant future developments being proposed.
As a small island with a much lower population, travel to and from Colchester is already a challenge for inhabitants of West Mersea with limited transport options. I would also consider that the current condition and need for additional maintenance of many of the existing roadways (including the strood) that a significant investment to the road networks around West Mersea will be essential to cope with the additional 700+ cars (excluding visitors to the island) that will result from the proposed Development.
Whilst other coastal and/or remote towns (e.g. Clacton, Southend, Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe etc) all have their own train stations nearby, West Mersea does not have any direct links with any main rail lines which means commuting is more of a challenge to its residents. The significant expansion proposed will directly translate to an additional (350-700+) vehicles on existing local roads during busy commuting periods since other transport options and travel routes are not available.
Lack of Community Facilities to Support the Development : Schooling
The proposed development is likely to bring a number of new families to the island which will considerably increase demand for primary and secondary school places in the local area. It is obvious that the current Primary School is not equipped to cope with another potential 700+ pupils (assuming an average of two children per household) with spaces already limited there would need to be a significant development proposal for the local primary school, and further secondary school options to be provided in order to provide a sustainable plan for schooling children already resident on the island and the prospective children that will result from the significant development.
Lack of Community Facilities to Support the Development : Sustenance
I would consider (contrary to 6.216 of the local plan) that only the co-op can be classed as a small supermarket which on its own is not equipped to serve the increased population which will result from the significant development. Both the Tesco 'convenience store' and Co-op supermarket provide essential food and household goods but do not provide sufficient stock and options required to meet the increased population. New inhabitants will therefore need to travel to either the Sainsburys store in Tollgate (as my wife and I regularly do) or Tesco's in Maldon using very small and winding roads (increasing traffic flows to these rural areas) or alternatively put added traffic strain on the Mersea Road heading into the Town which is already suffering from significant congestion. Coupled with a preference to maintain a stronger influence of local produce options (opposed to large retail outlets) the consequence of inevitable and essential retail expansion that will need to follow will also have a negative impact upon the local community.
Lack of Community Facilities to Support the Development : Healthcare
Aside from the transport problems and the impact on schooling, it is evident that the small doctors surgery on the island is already struggling with current population on the island and as a result my wife and I remain registered at the Abbey Fields Medical Centre nearer the centre of Town. In the future we hope to grow our family and at this time would ideally like to be registered at a surgery in the village. Whilst we are aware of plans to build a new surgery on the island, we are conscious that the proposed development will need for the proposed surgery plans to be further increased to meet the significant demand that will result from the potential development. The proposed housing developments will therefore have a significant impact on the need for corresponding healthcare development and i would like to understand how this will be accommodated considering that the current surgery cannot cope with the current numbers let alone the potential for 1000+ new residents.
Identity of West Mersea
Aside from the constructive issues raised above, my wife and I have significant concerns that the identity and values of West Mersea will be impacted upon by the influx of so many new homes in the areas proposed. As a small coastal town with strong community values and common interests it is felt that the tranquil and unique setting that many residents moved to West Mersea to enjoy will be impacted upon significantly by the proposed development. The development will inevitably result in a very different and 'busier' area which will be provide a much higher population in an extremely concentrated area. My wife and I moved to West Mersea specifically to enjoy the tranquil and enjoyable lifestyle that West Mersea provides since we have both commuted into Colchester in London all our working lives and we valued the benefits that the island currently offers. The trade off for the position of West Mersea is that it is more remote to the larger towns and main roads (making transport times longer) but in return the lower population and rural setting provides a way of life and attraction for tourism which is not offered by other towns. It is now proposed to significantly develop West Mersea which will leave us with further increased journey times as well as a negative impact upon the rural setting where we live! The developers will no doubt cash-in on the strong and unique attributes and popularity of the island but in doing so many of the attributes which set West Mersea apart from other areas will be lost on the way. Whilst limited and controlled development is inevitable in any area I feel that the current proposals do not offer a controlled strategy to maintain the rural attributes of the localised areas earmarked fro development, what will result is a concentrated area of modern development similar to other developments in densely populated towns and villages in central Colchester with the added negative that transport times into Chelmsford and London will also dramatically increase.
As my wife and I live in a property constructed in the Wellhouse Avenue Development, we are not adverse to controlled modern development in West Mersea provided it is more limited, more sympathetic and more widespread rather than to such a concentrated area. Our property currently enjoys picturesque rural views of the Glebe and the proposed development will also impact our own investment. The Wellhouse Avenue development was constructed to a highly aesthetic standard and is not large enough to detract from the identity and current values and identity of West Mersea. If the larger proposed developments were to go ahead I would also be concerned that the existing properties on Glebe View will loose alot of their charm. The existing development will also become an ascendant of a much larger and dense housing development, the scale of the overall housing plans are not considered sympathetic or sustainable to the existing Wellhouse development, other surrounding landowners or in the best interests of West Mersea as a whole.