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Preserve Hamlet

Villagers prepare to fight plans to add 7,000 new homes to tiny Battlesbridge
Backwater — Battlesbridge became important during the Industrial Revolution
Essex Echo
Wednesday 30th November 2005

Commercial point for the wheat and coal trade which boomed in Essex during that time. The mill now serves as memory of the past, housing one of the largest collections of antiques in the county.
Owned by Jim Gallie, who also runs a veteran motorbike museum, the mill stills stands in the hub of the community. The Barge public house next door celebrates it's 400th birthday next year.
Mr Gallie describes the hamlet as a place "time forgot",a sentiment echoed by resident and businessman Roy Hart who declared it is a "privilege" to live there.
Although opposed to the latest plans, Mr Hart, a Rettendon and Battlesbridge parish councillor, believes the village would benefit from some new homes. "We have a station with direct links to London and have potential for some extra houses. I would say about 150 to 200 would be ideal.
"We certainly could not cope with 7,000 extra. Our infrastructure is simply not in place. There is no police cover or schools. It seems a ridiculous proposal."
Mr Gallie, who owns about 25 acres in the village, agrees a small development would be acceptable. Talking from one of his antique centres in Muggeridge Farm, he said: "We seem to have been governed by strict planning laws imposed by Chelmsford Borough Council. "There has been very little development in the village. It still looks relatively similar to when we moved here 38 years ago. 'A small housing estate backing on to here would have little impact on the village, but I would certainly oppose plans for 7,000 new homes.

Bygone - the mill is now an antiques centre
"We are identified as green belt, under the coastal protection belt and are deemed a conservation area. I don't know how this can be ignored."
Barge landlord John Rock added: "The village could do with some more houses, but 7,000 seems too many. "Part of the appeal is the fact this is a hamlet, it has a good community spirit. This would be lost." In 2000 a similar application for just under 3,000 homes was submitted by Chelmsford Borough Council, which has jurisdiction for the tiny village. This was ditched after councillors opted for a development in Boreham. This was also later scrapped. Campaigners Val and Garrick Dyas, from Maltings Road, fought hard to save their "idyllic" village from the bulldozers then, and would certainly draw up battle plans if the need arose again.
Mr Dyas, 62, said: "These plans would ruin our village, simply ruin it. "We might as well change the road signs to Battlesbridge New Town." Mrs Dyas, 61, added: "We love this place. "It still has a village community. Everyone gets on and works together. "My eldest daughter is desperate to move here with her family, but it is just too expensive."
The couple, who have lived in the village for 27 years and both work for the Battlesbridge Antiques Centre, collected hundreds of signatures when the first application came up. "The thing is, it's not just residents who would oppose these plans," Mrs Dyas added. "There would be hundreds of tourists and visitors who would happily sign against plans."
The latest proposals have been put forward by unnamed developers after the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister outlined plans for an additional 130,000 homes in the east of England.
The plans will now go before an independent board in February who will decide whether these proposals should be included in the final draft compiled by the East of England Regional Assembly. Although Chelmsford Council will not comment on the details of the development, a spokesperson confirmed they would object to plans, saying it did not fall into its development control policy.
A council spokesman said: "The council has set out its options for meeting the housing requirements of the East of England plan in its core strategy and development plan document. This has recently been published for public consultation. "These options include two new neighbourhoods to the north of Chelmsford - the council's preferred option - a single major new neighbourhood to the north east of Chelmsford or a wider distribution of new dwellings between urban extensions to Chelmsford and the expansion of key villages beyond the green belt.