The Current Situation

PIGGY IN THE MIDDLEWICK

The problem is that the Wick has and will continue to become that political football the nearer to the May election we get.

Counsellor David King pledging that the “feasibility study would be undertaken through the Local Plan and Environmental agency/ party cross working, and more and better consultation with what the residents want” really is closing the stable door long after the horse has bolted.

We are in this current situation for one reason and one reason only and that is that CBC placed the Wick on the Local Plan, an action they didn’t HAVE to take. Under the normal scheme of things. CBC would have submitted a viable local plan to the planning inspector for approval without any assistance from the MOD. Very late in the day and long after the official ‘call for sites’ process had been closed the Wick appeared in the mix. Yes the MOD proposed 2000 but at that stage, CBC held the whip hand. At that point, it was up to councils. not landowners. as to which plots of land were accepted onto a local plan and for how many units allocated on each accepted site.

CBC didn’t manage to fight them off and down to 1000 as they like to infer, far from it they just told the MOD they would accept 1000 and placed the Wick in the plan. They did not HAVE to do it, they consciously CHOSE to do so. As I said CBC would have had a local plan without the Wick but once accepted onto the plan the die is cast

ITS AN ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL DESIGNATED WILDLIFE SITE

Locally designated sites – MiddleWick Ranges and Birch Brook Local Wildlife Sites (LWS)

… had CBC presented a viable plan without the ranges yes the MOD would have undoubtedly applied for planning for 2000 but this would have then been a speculative application and could have been rejected as such by CBC and, being land not allocated in the local plan, that decision would have been upheld by the Planning Inspector at the undoubted appeal but no… in reality, CBC fell on the Wick like the proverbial tramp on chips.

Despite the fact that the area in question is an ECC designated local wildlife site (one notch down from an SSSI) and as such “is a material fact in the planning process with a presumption against development”, CBC chose to give the MOD the green light.

We now see the effect of that decision in the DIO’s latest results of consultation documents. Whilst the public (no pun in- tended) have been confined to barracks with Covid the DIO has been beavering away with their very heavyweight consultants preparing their vision of the future and we witness a package almost oven ready for developers and one that has already been mitigated at every level of planning law. All CBC will be able to do now is argue about crossing and dotting a few ‘I’s and ‘T’s.

It is a valid argument that the MOD could have appealed at the Ministerial level had a Planning Inspector upheld local refusal and it is possible that the Minister might have overturned the Inspector’s ruling and granted permission. CBC could then have been standing shoulder to shoulder with the townsfolk in protest at having development forced upon the Wick by the Government, but the opportunity for that has been completely lost. We find ourselves in this appalling situation solely by the actions of CBC.

– by Phil Appleton

“Beyond the wall of the unreal city … there is another world waiting for you. It is the old true world of the deserts, the mountains, the forests, the islands, the shores, the open plains. Go there. Be there. Walk gently and quietly deep within it.” – Edward Abbey

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