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Robinson Road leisure park development recommended for approval

Planning Committee to make decision on Tuesday
The Lower Farm proposals - the dotted orange line shows Robinson Road

A proposed 81 acre 'Center Parcs' development on the site of former gravel workings off Robinson Road, Brightlingsea, has been recommended for approval by Tendring District Council (TDC) planning officers.

Colchester-based Honace Developments' plans to create a "peaceful, outdoor leisure experience" will be discussed by the council's planning committee on Tuesday evening (June 16). If approved, the Lower Farm park could include 104 holiday lodges with up to four bedrooms, 36 retirement apartments, glamping areas, a club house, play areas and five detached houses. The five lakes would be used for sailing, canoeing and fishing.

A 46-page report to the planning committee states: "The overarching objective of the development proposals is to develop a middle to high end tourist and leisure complex which will offer a new resort appealing to existing and new customers. It will offer both national and international tourism and promote economic growth of the immediate and local areas."

If Honace gains approval, it will have to make a £799,000 Affordable Housing Provision contribution, plus around £625 open space contribution for the Bayard Recreation Ground in Regent Road. Until 50 of the holiday lodges are built, and associated paths, access roads and landscaping are completed, no more than 60% of the over-60s retirement apartments can be occupied. When the plans were first made public, it was suggested that the site would be completed between 2025 and 2029.

The council's report says that the site is a "largely impoverished environment", with poor soil, plant life and little aquatic vegetation. While a bank on the northern edge of the site, where badgers and reptiles were found, will remain untouched, the report suggests that curlews may be disturbed from grassland in the centre of the site though the lakes will remain available for water birds. Bat friendly lighting is proposed, with thorn shrubs planted to offer protection to badger setts.

Sixty-nine objections were received by TDC, citing concerns about wildlife, traffic congestion along Robinson Road and on the main Brightlingsea Road, overburdened infrastructure, and possible adverse impact on local residents. However, the council's report says that traffic levels would be relatively low and mostly outside peak times. It also states that sewerage and other services can cope, and that the "degree of separation between the proposed development and nearby residents and the well-screened nature of the site would not adversely harm local residents' current level of amenity".

Fourteen local residents wrote in support, suggesting that the development would attract more affluent visitors to Tendring, create jobs, make good use of unused land and boost the economy. Brightlingsea Town Council also supported the plans (see update, below).

TDC's planning committee meets remotely at 6pm on Tuesday. To follow the meeting via live link, click here.

UPDATE. The minutes of Brightlingsea Town Council's planning committee on June 11, 2020, were published after this report. They state:

"The Chairman briefed members that this application was previously discussed and supported on the 21st March 2019, however the application is yet to be determined by Tendring District Council.He stated that a local resident of Brightlingsea has brought to our attention that we should reconsider our support for this application.He also stated that the authority of the Council to revisit this application has been confirmed by a TDC Officer in a conversation with the Town Clerk.

The Chairman then formally asked the committee if they wished to re-discuss this application.Agreed.

Correspondence from four local residents, concerning this application, had been circulated to all members.

A copy of a video from Honace, which provided an overview of the scheme, was played to all members.

The Chairman then asked members of the public - Susie Jenkins and Claire Ruse to speak to the application and to raise their concerns.Questions were asked by members, and much discussion took place.

It was then agreed that the Town Council would change its previous comment, to a neutral position, however the Town Council would like to liaise with the owners in a structured way, to monitor and address some of the following points:-

  • Going against apparent good practice with regard to energy use and supply with provision of, for example, wood burners but without provision of solar panels.
  • Lack of parking
  • Sustainability of energy supplies.
  • Development of Cycle Paths linking town and development.

Should the TDC Planning Committee be minded to grant approval BTC insist that the legal agreement relating to conditions is strictly adhered to particularly in relation to the requirement that no more than 60% of residential development can be occupied prior to the building of 50 lodges.

A vote was taken: For – 4; Against: 3.Carried."

 

Lower Farm - what it could look like

Retirement Apartments

A mix of 12 two-bedroomed and 24-one bedroomed apartments aimed at the over 60s within a two-storey art-deco styled building adjacent to Robinson Road.  The ground floor apartments will have access to smaller
manageable gardens with balconies proposed for those at first floor level. A shallow living roof garden that blends the roof space into the local landscape will be accessed via a rooftop observatory.

The Lakes

One of five that may be used for sailing, canoeing and boating

Glamping Area

Open in the summer season only, featuring tepees, yurts and other temporary accommodation, all with a toilet, kitchenette, cold running water and a wood burning stove for heating and cooking.

Holiday Lodges

104 timber-built lodges arranged around the lakes for short-term stays – sale or transfer for residential use or long-term letting won't be permitted. Half will have one bedroom, 40% two bedrooms with the remainder having three or four.

Private Housing

Five four-bedroomed houses with double garages adjacent to Robinson Road accessed via a private drive

The Barrow

A central hub for tourists with a café, information centre and shop with potential use as an event and training space off-season. Designed to be hidden in the landscape, with a full double curved sedum or ‘living’ roof.
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