But the company behind the proposal, Morgan Marine, says the development will provide much-needed marina berths with improved facilities, create 10 jobs, reduce pollution and create additional work for local businesses .
If approved, the Colne Marina project would see 90 new and 25 improved moorings and pontoon berths at the boatyard on the town's Shipyard Estate. Morgan Marine's operations manager, Oli Miller, explained that at the West Basin, nearest the Wharf, a new ramp is planned for a larger boat hoist, able to lift out vessels of up to 70 tons, allowing local boat maintenance businesses to work on larger vessels that currently have to go to Ipswich.
The land area by the basin will be extended to create parking for around 30 cars, as well space for a new fuel berth and a boat washdown facility that will prevent toxins from entering the creek. New berths here will extend slightly beyond the line of the Wharf. Besides general improvements to boat storage, wi-fi and washrooms, the company has also purchased the large blue warehouse building just outside its gates and will be converting this to an indoor showroom with some additional parking behind.
However, it's the plans for the East Basin – where the new pontoons will extend out around 60m from the shoreline and 17.5m further than the current pontoon taking them close to the centre of the deep water channel – that have created the most concern for some users of the creek, including the St Osyth Boatyard, where the sailing barge Edme is based, and the adjacent Underwood's Hard boatyard.
While documents submitted as part of the planning application claim that there will be plenty of room for vessels to pass the pontoons, even when wide catamarans are moored there, one objector has likened the plan to extending a house "into the street and halfway across the road", limiting space in what is already a restricted channel.
Members of the Brightlingsea Community Rowing Club say the pontoons would leave them with little or no room for races and general use particularly outside high water times. Former masters of the motor barges that used to take sand from Martin's Farm have said that any incursion into the main channel would effectively prevent any future commercial traffic using the creek – and could be dangerous if a ship using the port had a problem and overshot the wharf.
In addition, the operators of the wharf says that plans to place a dolphin to protect the berths nearest the wharf could restrict the size of ships able to use the port of Brightlingsea. Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners have made no formal comment, but a recent meeting of 24 commercial and leisure users of the harbour resulted in a list of 15 issues, including a call for the Commissioners to "engage more closely with the stakeholders, especially those that will be affected by the proposals". A summary of the meeting can be downloaded from this link.
Other objectors have concerns about possible adverse effects on wildlife, the views from Ropewalk, increased traffic and general overdevelopment. Supporters say the marina will provide better facilities for users, bring business to the town and tidy up the area.
The plans are due to be discussed by Brightlingsea Town Council on Thursday, June 10, and its decision will be forwarded to Tendring District Council, which will have the final say. At the time of writing, over 90 comments had been received by Tendring's planning department from members of the public.
The plans can be seen on Tendring Council's website here and the deadline for comments is June 18.
Image shows how far the pontoons will extend into the creek. The darker the blue, the deeper the water.