There was standing room only at a packed public meeting called by No Brook Green action group to discuss the proposals to build a huge 1600 house estate either side of the beautiful and much loved Flitch Way Country Park essentially filling in any division between Braintree with Notley and Rayne.
A number of public representatives attended. This included councillors from Braintree District Council, Rayne Parish Council and MP James Cleverly.
Graham Butland, leader of the Council, also attended.
The developer, Mr Wayne Gold, refused his invitation to attend or send a representative to engage with the local community to discuss and answer any of the concerns or questions raised by members of the public. He also did not take up an invitation to send in a written statement to be read aloud at the meeting.
The representatives present heard for themselves for over an hour the strength of feeling that the local community have in relation to this development as the floor was handed over to them to make their voices heard. There was overwhelming public outrage at the plans. There were numerous passionate comments made about the negative effect that this proposal would have on the local community in which they live and work.
The major objections voiced included that the application was premature as there was not yet a local plan in place regarding development in the district, that it would lead to the effective merging of Rayne, Notley and Braintree, that there would be traffic chaos on the roads and there was insufficient infrastructure, including school places and GPs, to service the development. Flooding and the devastating effect on local historical assets were also high on the agenda of objections raised.
An area where residents felt particularly passionately about the development was the inevitable destruction of the essence of the Flitch Way which was identified as a local gem and real community asset. It would be reduced to little more than a pathway though a housing estate. The developer was quoted as saying that in his view the enjoyment of derived from using the Flitch Way was from using the path itself, he did not accept that the views and countryside vista and peace and quiet were the reason people used the Flitch Way; the meeting rejected this suggestion with laughter. One resident voiced how she lived in Braintree and used the Flitch with her children as it was safe and quiet and gave them easy access to the countryside and was irreplaceable as a community facility.
One resident asked whether the District council was actually listening to the concerns of the residents or just paying lip service to it. This question was answered in emphatic terms by leader of the Council Graham Butland who, to rounds of applause, in no uncertain terms assured the meeting that the council was listening, that there had not been any kind of ‘done deal’ and that his personal view was that he did not support the development as it was the wrong place, the wrong solution to the housing needs of the district and was premature as there was no local plan.
The meeting was told of the work of the action group to raise awareness of the proposal. Public awareness of it had been very poor but the Group had been working hard to give information to the local community to enable them to engage with it.
The meeting had to be drawn to a close due to the late hour although residents clearly had much more to say on this highly controversial proposal. Anyone who wishes to comment on the application can still do so using reference 15/01538/out on the Braintree district councils website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org