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Bures Hamlet Outline planning application for the erection of up to 98 dwellings

April 13, 2019 1:56 PM
By Steve Bolter

I was asked my views on this application.

Here is what i submitted to Braintree D C last year

Original submission on web form on 02 April 2018 was truncated.

This is as submitted to Braintree District Council by PDF on 03 April

17/02291/OUT Bures Hamlet Outline planning application for the erection of up to 98 dwellings with public open space, landscaping and sustainable drainage system (SuDS) and vehicular access point from Colchester Road,

Objection submitted online was truncated. Objection resubmitted as a PDF

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At first glance the applicant's case for development is impressive, but all is not quite as suggested; and there are also strong counter arguments, such as the very special significance and high sensitivity of the landscape of the Stour Valley.

1 The Stour Valley Landscape

This area of the East of England is predominantly flat. The Stour Valley between Manningtree and Sudbury, brings welcome relief. This landscape provided the inspiration for many of the paintings of Constable and Gainsborough and is highly valued both by locals and by the many visitor to the area, including those hiking along the 'Stour Valley Path' and the 'St Edmund Way' long distance footpaths.
Around Bures the flat valley bottom is narrow. Most of the valley sides are steep, and many its side valleys are narrow and steep sided.

People from a wide area around come to enjoy this cut landscape, a local miniature version of landscapes too far away for a day visit. This is acknowledged in the Dedham Vale part of the Stour Valley by its "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" status. The part from there to Sudbury and beyond had "Area of Special Landscape Value" status when this was an official designation.

When the Government decided in favour of the official landscape designations being descriptive rather than value grades, the area's description made its especially high value, and its high sensitivity very clear.

Because it relies on the relatively small height difference between the valley and the plateau, the landscape value is particularly sensitive to large building or dense collections of smaller ones.

Short extracts from ESSEX LANDSCAPE CHARACTER ASSESSMENT 2003 are appended.

It has been proposed that the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty be extended up the Stour Valley, and its steep side valley, to Sudbury the Belchamp Brook.

The special value of this cut landscape to the East of England Region and the active consideration of the proposal to make it part of an extended "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" was acknowledged in the decision on National Grid to underground this sector of the proposed new, mainly overhead 400 000 V link from Ipswich to the London.

2 Soil Report

The introduction misleadingly states that the land is Agricultural Grade 3. However the survey undertaken estimates that 87% of the land is high quality Agricultural Grade 2, with one out of the 10 samples at Grade 3a and one at Grade 1.

3 Transport

Journeys to London and Colchester. London commuter journeys are time critical. Parking near Bures station is already saturated. While it is possible to have a healthy walk to Bures Station, the extra time walking and the extra time changing onto a stopping train to London at Marks Tey (which is impossible for those who cannot manage the steep steps to cross the line) will make driving to Colchester station to get an Intercity service to London the choice of most commuters. The last train back to Sudbury is too early for London Concert and Theatre visits.

The bus from Bures to Colchester is too slow for London commuters to consider, but could be useful for daytime visits to the town centre.

Journeys to Sudbury and Bury. The bus to Sudbury is hourly and does a detour round the Cornard estate on the way to town. There is no evening or Sunday service. The train to Sudbury is also hourly, but is a longer walk from the proposed housing. I envisage that almost all shopping, leisure and work journeys will be by car along the narrow congested B1508. The bus service onwards from Sudbury is very slow, making it 1h 40 minutes from Bures to the centre of Bury St Edmunds.

Transport Conclusion While there is public transport available, it is not very convenient. The estate would generate far more car journeys, on the inadequate local roads, than journeys by public transport.

Conclusion

The landscape of the Stour Valley near Bures is of special value to the region, and gives its population a local alternative to journeying to regions where such landscapes are more common. A further extension of Bures Hamlet would have a negative impact on this landscape.
While there is some public transport in the area, most journeys from this estate, if built, would be by car.

Leaving this Grade 2 land agricultural and putting housing development in the A12 / mainline rail corridor would be more sustainable.