A THIRTEEN-year battle to turn Horkesley Park has come to an end after communities secretary Eric Pickles rejected a planning appeal.

Bunting & Sons have been trying for more than a decade to create the Stour Valley Visitor Centre on 101 acres of land partly in the Dedham Vale.

The family firm, which last year entered administration, wanted to create gardens, art and craft studios, a Suffolk Punch breeding centre and an art gallery.

But Mr Pickles yesterday revealed he backed the decision by Colchester Council and a recommendation by an independent inspector to reject the planning application.

Will Pavry, of the Stour Valley Action Group, said: “We’re obviously delighted it’s been refused.

“We feel it’s a vindication of the decision by the council in February 2013 and we think it’s a wonderful result.

“After 13 years of struggle we have now finally got Horkesley Park refused.”

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said: “This comes as a huge relief and a vindication that what protesters have been saying is valid.

"This is fantastic news for the future of Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley.”

For a special report, see Friday's Gazette