Colchester schoolboy and entreprenuer Mark Dobson shares his view on development in the borough.

Since moving back to the Colchester area in 2004, I have observed the gradual, or perhaps more accurately, the accelerated destruction of our once great town through excessive overdevelopment.

Over the last few years we have seen massive building projects, some still in progress, in Cowdray Avenue, Great Horkesley, Stanway, Myland, and the site where the Woods factory used to be off Bergholt Road.

Add to the development of housing where the barracks once was, which at least was a brown field site, and I really dread to think how many houses and flats have been built around the town over the last decade.

There is now the threat of further developments in the Cowdray Centre and on the site of the Essex County Hospital in Lexden.

When, and where, will it all end?

Even more worrying is West Tey, and I’d like to ask a question about that; where are the 60,000 people that would occupy 24,000 new homes now?

Are they homeless? Do they live in the area? Of course not.

Most will move out from London and then every day, drive or catch a train back into the city.

You will end up with a massive dormitory town sitting on thousands of acres of prime farmland.

It won’t be a “garden community”, an extremely misleading label, because there will be no community.

I’m sure the houses will have gardens, but in reality, it’s a concrete town destroying green land with irretrievable and tragic consequences.

The people involved say they are building for the future, for our children and grandchildren.

No they aren’t, they’re destroying open space, green fields, wildlife, and air quality to the detriment of future generations.

North Essex is hugely congested already, and while I hear lots of noise from all sides about infrastructure, all that will happen is more roads attracting more and more traffic and therefore, more and more congestion.

If you build a road, people will use it and developers will see it as carte blanche to buy up more adjacent land and build more houses and industrial units therefore generating more traffic and guess what, back to square one with more congestion.

Please accuse me of being a nimby, because that’s what I am, but for good reason.

I am not against sensible development and growth, although Colchester has gone way too far now, but this isn’t sensible.

I choose to live in north Essex because it’s primarily of a rural nature, but a new town of this size will have nothing but a major, negative impact on those residents in the vicinity and turn several rural communities into one vast, sprawling concrete jungle.

I have not heard one single supportive comment about this “new town” from any friends or family, and some live in the directly affected area, because no-one wants their countryside destroyed.

According to Paul Smith, leader of Colchester council, the birth rate is exceeding the mortality rate by 900 per year. How can a growth of 900 people per year justify the building of 24,000 more houses?


Artist impression - how West Tey could look

At that growth rate, we already have more than enough houses being built in Tollgate, Myland, and the inevitable development that will be approved by our council in the old Cowdray Centre.

It seems our council does not listen to its residents’ views at all. It doesn’t have the courage to stand up to the developers but will just roll over and have their tummies tickled.

This level of development just doesn’t add up. They’re obviously assuming all 900 additional people will want to stay in the Colchester area. With all this unnecessary and unwanted development going on and the existing traffic gridlock, let alone the future, inevitable and worse gridlock, I doubt that very much.

He also went on to say the average household size is reducing at a rate of 1 per cent per year.

If our council believes a 1 per cent drop justifies concreting over hundreds of acres of green land they really are living on a different planet.

He also said: “Garden Communities give us a realistic alternative to put local people in control.”

But we’re not in control. They are.

They are doing all they can to avoid engaging with the public with a poorly publicised consultation over the Christmas period.

If Mr Smith and the rest of the blinkered council members in favour of West Tey believe the public have some sort of control, he obviously hasn’t driven along the A120 and observed the mass of “No to West Tey” signs being displayed.

Yes, it’s true developers have a big say on where houses are built, primarily for their shareholders’ financial gain of course, but that’s also a consequence of a weak planning department bowing to their pressure.

I know government has also intervened, but Colchester Council has presided over the total ruin of a once great town and now, in conjunction with Braintree, is presiding over the ruin of thousands of acres of farmland.

I hear and read about the target imposed by central government and again I despair of our council – why are they so weak it can’t fight against these targets?

You’re in your positions of “power” to represent your constituents but you do not seem to understand that.

This is nothing but an ego trip for the councillors involved.

You all claim to be representatives of your constituents but let me categorically say, you are not representing me.

I’d like to applaud Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex, an organisation criticised by councillor Tim Young for the energetic and sterling work it is doing in opposing the unwanted and unnecessary new town.

It says the consultation on West Tey is premature, but I’ll go further, it shouldn’t happen at all.

Scrap this ridiculous idea and go back to representing the people of north Essex in sorting out the issues that exist and stop wasting any more of my money.

There was a letter last week which suggested the villages that surround Colchester should have a small amount of residential development; what an excellent idea!

As the author said, schools are closing, village shops are closing, and pubs are closing.

I live in Wormingford, a very small village, and we would have welcomed a development of 20 or 30 houses, many of which should have been affordable to encourage locals to stay.

This could have meant that our excellent village school needn’t have been closed, the shop would be busier, and our pub, while open, may not have been through several periods of closure.

If this were to be allowed in every village that lies within 10 miles of Colchester it would have had a positive impact not only on the villages themselves, but perhaps to less development in Colchester itself.

Colchester is becoming a joke, a mess and an embarrassment, and there is little hope this endless ego-driven march for a concreted over town will ever end.