Frequently Asked Questions

  1. About
  2. Who are the members of the Internal Group (Committee) or the Save Middlewick Campaign Group?
  3. What is the expertise of the Internal Group?
  4. Why do we have an Internal Group?
  5. Why did the Middlewick Ranges go into the Local Plan?
  6. Who put the Middlewick Ranges into the Local Plan?
  7. Did the Middlewick Ranges have to go into the Local Plan?
  8. Who is the MP for the area?
  9. Is Middlewick Ranges classed as a brownfield site?
  10. Who are the Counsellors for the area?
  11. Has there been any building on MiddleWick Ranges before?
  12. Celebratory Involvement
  13. Was the land given to the MOD from Colchester?
  14. Who owns Middlewick Ranges?
  15. Now that the government has given the army extra funding, why can’t they return the Wick to local residents to use – as they have done for hundreds of years?
  16. How much is the land worth?
  17. What area on MiddleWick Ranges are the houses being built?
  18. How can I help?
  19. How many houses are being built?
  20. What height/density will the housing be?
  21. Can residents buy Middlewick Ranges?
  22. Can Colchester Borough Council buy Middlewick Ranges?
  23. Will the Council keep to its promise to have the feasibility of MiddleWick Ranges becoming a Country park and/or nature reserve and a forum set up to discuss this?
  24. What happens next if the development is kept within the Local Plan?
  25. What happens if the development is thrown out of the Local Plan?
  26. What happens if MOD withdraws the site?
  27. Why isn’t Middlewick Ranges a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI)?
  28. What protections do Local Wildlife Sites have against development?
  29. Is the whole of MiddleWick Ranges a designated Local Wildlife Site?
  30. Why are Greenspaces important for people?
  31. Will the development impact Climate change?
  32. What are the main objections for the MiddleWick Ranges Development not going ahead?
  33. What are the main infrastructure issues?
  34. Is it true that 63% will be available for the public?
  35. Why can’t the houses be built elsewhere?
  36. Will there be affordable housing available?

About

Stephanie Murran started the Save the Middlewick Ranges Facebook Campaign Group following the announcement by the DIO that the Middlewick Ranges was to be sold for housing development. Over the last two years, the Save Middlewick Ranges members has grown to 2.8K members.


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Who are the members of the Internal Group (Committee) or the Save Middlewick Campaign Group?

There are currently 33 active members including representatives of a number of environment groups including En-form; Colchester’s environment Information Centre, Eco Colchester and Extinction Rebellion. 


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What is the expertise of the Internal Group?

The areas of knowledge in the group include experts on Ecology, Planning, Environmental Law, Social Media and Campaigning. The Group has members who were there right at the start of the campaign before 2017 and others who have joined us on the campaign journey. To join the Internal Group is by invitation only and with the agreement of all on the committee.


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Why do we have an Internal Group?

The internal group was set up as a private group so the strategy for saving the Wick and the campaign would remain confidential from those members on the Save Middlewick Ranges Group who are not in accordance with our views of no housing on the Wick. We take on board ideas from the Save Middlewick Ranges members and encourage action. Unfortunately the pandemic and lack of funding has curtailed some of the action we wanted to take. 


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Why did the Middlewick Ranges go into the Local Plan?

Colchester Borough Council (CBC) has claimed that they put the Middlewick Ranges Local Plan so that they could maintain control over the development. We believe, however, that the Council acted prematurely, including this site to the Local Plan at such short notice – which was at their complete discretion. The members of the Save Middlewick Ranges Group believe that CBC did not have the will or courage to fight this proposal for 1,000 homes on the site.  Once Middlewick Ranges went in the Local Plan it could not be reversed. The allocation of 1000 houses was a huge number towards quotas needed for the Local Plan and alleviated areas earmarked for housing.


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Who put the Middlewick Ranges into the Local Plan?

Colchester Borough Council when the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) approached them with the sale. We are told that there are too many incursions while training which disrupt training and that it is a health and safety issues. It should be noted from an FOI request that there have been no injuries during training for the last 10 years.


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Did the Middlewick Ranges have to go into the Local Plan?

No. It was a choice made by Colchester Borough Council without adequate consultation or investigation. We are told by Colchester Borough Council that the development had to go into the Local Plan as if it did not the DIO would have then been able to build 2000 houses and not 1000 which agreed. This, therefore, made the 2017 Consultation on the MiddleWick Ranges development a tick box exercise and the views of the residents, ecologists and other members of the public was not listened to. 


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Who is the MP for the area?

Middlewick falls within the parliamentary constituency of Colchester represented by Will Quince MP. https://members.parliament.uk/member/4423/contact 


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Is Middlewick Ranges classed as a brownfield site?

When the first 2017 Consultation Meetings took place some people and counsellors assumed that the MiddleWick Ranges was a brownfield site because of the MOD training that takes place on the land and the mitigation that would be needed to clear shells and other chemical hazards. This, however, was quickly disproven and was confirmed to be a green space. The MiddleWick Ranges is a unique, uncultivated mosaic of habitats supporting eco systems of rare and diverse wildlife and is classed as a Local Wildlife area (LoWs) on par with a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 


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Who are the Counsellors for the area?

Lee Scordis

Adam Fox and Mike Lilley for Old Heath

Dave Harris

Martyn Warnes

Chris Pearson for Berechurch


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Has there been any building on MiddleWick Ranges before?

Not significantly apart from minor military constructions, WW2 pillboxes and the ranges themselves. Before it was purchased in 1857 by the MOD it was a farm. 


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Celebratory Involvement

We are also looking for celebratory backing. The campaign committee have reached out to everyone from Chris Packham, David Attenborough  to Damon Albarn! So far there has been no celebrity involvement.  If you have a hotline to a celebratory who would back the Save MiddleWick Ranges campaign please do contact them. 


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Was the land given to the MOD from Colchester?

No. The Crown purchased the 167-acre (0.68 km2) MiddleWick Farm for use as a training area and a rifle range in 1857 which is now MiddleWick Ranges. This evidenced in the Land Registry title.  There are, however, conventions associated with the sale at the time which the DIO have declared commercially sensitive on an FOI request. There is a debate that because Colchester taxpayers supported this sale, supported the army garrison and that they have sold so much land in South Colchester for housing already with little infrastructure, that they should give the land to Colchester for its residents. This however, has no legal basis.


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Who owns Middlewick Ranges?

The Ministry Of Defence.


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Now that the government has given the army extra funding, why can’t they return the Wick to local residents to use – as they have done for hundreds of years?

We are told that the Defence Infrastructure Organisation needs the money despite the additional funding given by the Government.


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How much is the land worth?

Estimated to be worth £30 million to £37 million. This is because green space is worth more than brownfield sites. 


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What area on MiddleWick Ranges are the houses being built?

The area bounded by Mersea Road to Abbotts road. The ecological important part of the site along with Birch Brook. See map. 


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How can I help?

Please follow the campaign on Facebook, Instagram and twitter. Liking and sharing posts will help to raise the profile. There is a page to follow and a group to join that you can post questions to.

Friends of Middlewick – From this page, you can like and share Campaign posts.

A facebook ‘page’ allows the committee to share updates about our activities. When someone likes or follows a Page on Facebook, they can start seeing updates from that Page in their News Feed. However, with a facebook page it does not allow the public to post or start conversations. A facebook ‘group’ allows its members to post and engage in more conversation.

SAVE THE MIDDLEWICK RANGES>>>>COLCHESTER ESSEX – This is the main Campaign group – it is a private group please apply to join 

Instagram as save_the_middlewick_ranges 

Stories of our Wick MiddleWick Ranges – Add your stories and memories of the Middlewick Ranges

Write to: Your MP, Councillors, MOD. Natural England, Defra, Secretary of State and anyone else you think will back the Campaign.

Get in touch if you have a relevant skill and think you can help. 

Sign the petition – There are three on the internet but the main petition started by save the wick can be found at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-middlewick-range-make-it-a-country-park?just_launched=true

Submit articles or stories for the newsletter/website?

If you would like to write an article about the Middlewick Ranges please email it to wicknews@savemiddlewick.org

If you would like to share a story or memory of the Middlewick Ranges please email it to mystory@savemiddlewick.org 

How can I offer my expertise/ invite us to an event/ offer fundraising ideas?

Please get in touch with the committee either via our facebook, instagram, twitter account or by email: savethemiddlewickranges@gmail.com  

 


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How many houses are being built?

Proposed up to 1000. There are, however, no guarantees that the DIO will not come back for more housing to be allocated.


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What height/density will the housing be?

The DIO Vision Document talks about flats, townhouses and apartments (around three stories), terraces houses etc in terms of density rather than height. (We understand that one bungalow is for assisted living). The best way to view the kind of housing that is proposed is to look at housing already built in South Colchester on previous army land (although these examples are not given in the Vision document). 

Density band: Low 25 5.67ha area = 142 houses

Density band: Medium 35 11.66ha = 408 houses

Density band: Medium to High 45 8.40ha = 378 houses

Density band: High 60 1.21ha = 72 Houses


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Can residents buy Middlewick Ranges?

It is likely to cost up to £37million. There are around 190,000 people who live in Colchester so everyone would need to chip in £195. Highly unlikely. 


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Can Colchester Borough Council buy Middlewick Ranges?

Incredibly unlikely. Colchester Borough Council receives income of around £10 million a year to pay for all the services it provides.


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Will the Council keep to its promise to have the feasibility of MiddleWick Ranges becoming a Country park and/or nature reserve and a forum set up to discuss this?

The council have not promised to have a feasibility study. It was proposed in March 2021 but rejected.


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What happens next if the development is kept within the Local Plan?

Planning permission will still be required that will have to take into account factors such as ecology and transport.


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What happens if the development is thrown out of the Local Plan?

It becomes much harder but not impossible to build on the site.


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What happens if MOD withdraws the site?

The development would not go ahead in the short term but proposals to develop the site can be made at any time in the future.


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Why isn’t Middlewick Ranges a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI)?

MiddleWick has over 600 species that use it but has not met the criteria set by Natural England.


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What protections do Local Wildlife Sites have against development?

Local wildlife sites can be developed on. They depend upon the owners to ensure correct habitat management and protection. 


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Is the whole of MiddleWick Ranges a designated Local Wildlife Site?

Why are Greenspaces important for people?

The UK government’s strategy on loneliness recognises the importance of Greenspaces and links urbanisation with loneliness and decreased well-being.

£2.1 billion per year could be saved in health costs if everyone in England had good access to Greenspace, due to increased physical activity in those spaces.

Green environments are associated with reduced levels of depression, anxiety and fatigue and can enhance the quality of life for both children and adults. We gain physically too. People with better access to Greenspace enjoy a wide range of health benefits from lower levels of cardiovascular disease through to maintaining a healthier weight.

Greenspace can help to bind communities together, reduce loneliness, and mitigate the negative effects of air pollution, excessive noise, heat and flooding. Disadvantaged groups appear to gain a larger health benefit and have reduced socioeconomic-related inequalities in health when living in greener communities, so Greenspace and a greener urban environment can also be used as an important tool in the drive to build a fairer society.


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Will the development impact Climate change?

Yes, the removal of established trees, hedges and grasslands of which store enormous amounts of carbon will not be able to be offset against. Instead, we’re creating more homes that will be using more energy and there will be even more cars adding additional pollution to Colchester’s already heavily polluted streets. 

The loss of natural infrastructure also leaves the town more vulnerable to flooding, something we will be seeing more of as our climate continues to see longer and drier summers with heavier rainfall in the winter months.   


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What are the main objections for the MiddleWick Ranges Development not going ahead?

  • Ecology/LoWs status
  • Congestion and traffic caused by the increase in numbers of people and therefore cars 
  • Transport issues and pollution hotspots are already an issue for the area
  • CO2 emissions
  • Air pollution 
  • Mental health impacts due to lack of Greenspace 
  • Biodiversity net gain loss
  • Contamination/bullets and foot and mouth
  • Flooding/drainage/sewage
  • Ecology
  • Doesn’t align with the Councils declaration of a climate emergency. 
  • What about this government’s pledge to protect our natural surroundings?

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What are the main infrastructure issues?

  • Water pipes to be routed from Haven Road, Hythe to the Middlewick (potable water)
  • Flooding in part of the area where housing will be located
  • New roads and roundabout
  • Remodelling of Birch Brook – possible infiltration system
  • Sewage issues
  • New pumping station
  • The build is envisaged to take up to 10 years
  • The disruption to the area is unacceptable
  • The promise of a primary school (not guaranteed)
  • There will be no GP services

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Is it true that 63% will be available for the public?

The Vision Document states that the development will include two football pitches, a village square, a BMX track, landscaping and rerouting Cycle paths.  We also understand that the area of the South Side of the Wick will continue to be used for army training with fenced off areas (which states are for biodiversity reasons.  As the Save MiddleWick Ranges group do not want this and to become a country park and or nature reserve, it remains to be seen how much of the land will be available to the public.  There is currently a Freedom Of Information request outstanding from Colchester Borough Council asking this question.


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Why can’t the houses be built elsewhere?

Because it’s the Ministry Of Defence. We believe that there are other suitable areas housing can be built particularly in regards to Windfall land (i.e Paxman’s) that has now come available and the reimagining of the High Street where many shop buildings have now come available for homes and the increased amount of housing for students at the University of Essex.  It should be noted that Colchester Borough Council has already built-in excess of their quota.


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Will there be affordable housing available?

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation states that affordable housing will be available, however, where there are abnormal costs involved, a developer will often come back and say they cannot supply the affordable housing as not cost-effective, other infrastructure promises are also abandoned. The DIO states that the only abnormal cost would be the drainage and this is acceptable for development, however with water pipes being routed from the Hythe, sewage issue, new roads and contamination mitigation, we believe the costs will be high and either more housing will be requested or the affordable housing need and infrastructure may well be sacrificed. 


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