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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

St Osyth Priory: President of ESAH Writes to Planning Inspectorate

The Essex Society for Archaeology & History 

The Planning Inspectorate, 
Room 3/0, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, BRISTOL BS1 6PN 
25th October 2016 

Your appeal refs: APP/P1560/W/16/3158325 and 3158326 

Dear Sirs, 

Re: St. Osyth Priory, The Bury, St. Osyth, Essex 
Appeal references: APP/P15601W/16/3158325 and APP/P1560M1/16/3158326 Tendring District Council application refs: 16/00656/FUL and 16/00671/FUL 

At a meeting of the Council of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History (ESAH) held at Essex University on 22nd October 2016, it was unanimously decided to strenuously oppose both the above appeals. 

It is very unusual for ESAH to make representations in connection with planning applications and planning appeals and this is a very rare exception. It illustrates the importance attached to this complex of very important Grade One listed buildings and the historic landscape in which they are located. These are some of the most outstanding listed buildings in the historic county of Essex and it is vital that these buildings and the surrounding ancient parkland is preserved intact for future generations, to appreciate. In the opinion of members this outweighs the provision of houses for which there are many suitable brownfield sites available in the county. I am enclosing a copy of ESAHs letter to Tendring District Council of 24th August 2016 objecting to the two planning applications, which are now the subject of these appeals. This letter stands and I do not propose to repeat its contents, but I have been asked to make the following additional objections: 

1. The continual revision of figures by the developer into mid-September 2016 does not allow sufficient time for objectors - especially voluntary organisations and individual objectors from the public - to assess the changing financial claims. The planning process has been disrupted, and this appears to be the main cause of the non-determination. The figures provided by the developer need to be independently assessed for their veracity, and local people and organisations who have previously objected, given sufficient time to assess the new paperwork and revise their views or objections. 

2. There is no reason to think that the conservation deficit has really been reduced. Even with the supposed uplift in development value less than half the money is reserved for repairs to the Priory and it is nowhere near the amount required so it still does not qualify as an enabling development. Non-specific claims of other sources of money are insufficiently supported by evidence in the documentation provided. 

3. The developers have not produced what we regard as a coherent and deliverable plan for the future of the Priory. ESAH agrees with St. Osyth Parish Council and Historic England that the creation of an independent Buildings Preservation Trust is a more realistic option to secure the future of this magnificent historic landscape and this is one which the Society would support. 

4. ESAH remains fundamentally opposed to the destruction of the character a listed monastic landscape (Priory Park) and a conservation area and historic setting for the Priory (West Field/Mill Street) by building development of this nature. We also note that the local community is also almost universally opposed to the development and the whole planning process with regard to this important historic monument is in danger of being brought into disrepute. 

5. It is considered that the conservation area is sound and the objection that the Mill Street development brings new suburbanization to this part of the historic landscape and destroys a historic linear settlement pattern still stands. It is not mitigated by the fact that the appellants intend to then spend only part of the money restoring part of the Priory buildings converting them into housing (from which they will make more money). 

Since our letter of 24th August 2016 it has transpired that if Tendring District Council had determined these applications they would have been refused. It has also become apparent that there are major objections to the proposed developments by Historic England, St. Osyth Parish Council and numerous other organisations and individuals. In view of the number and weight of objections and the national importance of the historic landscape around the Priory, the 450 personal and institutional members of ESAH would urge you to please dismiss these appeals. 

Will you please post your decision letter to me or alternatively email it to me on: adrian [at] 

Thank you. 

Yours faithfully, 
Adrian Corder-Birch, President 

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