Broomfield Place

At the Parish Council meeting last week, we received an update from Chairman of Essex County Council (ECC), Councillor John Aldridge, on the future of the land behind Broomfield Place.

Broomfield Parish Council (BPC) is aware that there has been some speculation in the Village about the Parish Council acquiring this land to be used as a public facility based on a perception that, on her death, the original owner had in some way bequeathed the land for community use.

The land is currently owned by ECC who originally purchased it over 70 years ago on the open market following the death of its last owner.

The Parish Council has thoroughly investigated the history of the ownership and it is clear that there was never any expectation that the people of the Village should retain any form of interest in the property.

The property in currently zoned for possible residential development in the current Local Plan. However, it is excluded from the proposed plan which is likely to be confirmed in early 2019.

The Parish Council has had meetings with ECC to discuss the possible acquisition of the land for public use. These discussions have been conducted on a normal business level and our case has been taken very seriously but it is not the only option open to the County Council. We do recognise that ECC has regulatory obligations like any other public body and must investigate other options that could potentially generate more funds for public use.

At our meeting last week, Councillor John Aldridge explained that although our case had been shortlisted as a viable option, ECC had decided that they should market the property for sale. He also confirmed that the sale would include a condition that any purchaser had to work with the Parish Council to identify and provide facilities for public use that would be over and above the minimum required by law. Given the timetable for the adoption of the Local Plan, it could be difficult to a potential purchaser to close the deal and then obtain any sort of planning permission from Chelmsford City Council. However, we have no option to respect the fact that ECC must pursue that option.

In the first instance, we have applied to designate the land as an asset of community value, and this is being investigated by the City Council who will make their decision in August. Beyond that, BPC has agreed that its own strategy will be to carefully consider any planning application that might come forward and make as strong a case as possible to object to any sort of residential development on that area. In that objection we will be aligning ourselves with Chelmsford City Council who have themselves already decided not to zone that site for development.

If the sale falls through, or if we are successful in opposing any development, we will reopen negotiations with ECC and try to find a way of bringing the land into public use in Broomfield. If permission for housing is granted, we will work vigorously with any developer to ensure that we secure maximum benefit for the Village.