Welcome to the Broomfield Place consultation. Here you will find food for your thoughts about what could be done with the land around Broomfield Place. Take a look around and click on the links to find ideas and articles from people with different visions for the land. But before we all get too excited – a brief warning. All the land belongs to Essex County Council (ECC). They’ve said they don’t need it to fulfil their functions and have declared it surplus to requirements. Normally this means they would sell it for the highest price possible. Last year, they tried to sell it all for residential development but, thanks to the Parish Council and County Councillor John Aldridge, we put a stop to that.
As a cash-strapped local authority, ECC can’t afford to just give the land to Broomfield Parish Council. The Parish Council can’t afford to buy it because it has ‘hope value’, meaning it’s worth a lot more than ordinary grassland because it may be potential building land one day.
That’s a shame, because the ideal way to keep Broomfield Park green and unspoilt would be to buy it and turn it into a nature reserve, country park, sports fields or the like. Obviously, any community facilities that need buildings, structures etc. wouldn’t help to keep Broomfield Park green and open – quite the opposite.
Fortunately, there is another way. The planning system has introduced ‘neighbourhood plans’, which are led by a parish or local community. We’re working on the Broomfield Neighbourhood Plan now. One of the things we’re looking at is how we can protect as much of our beautiful countryside and green space as possible, using the additional scope we get by doing a neighbourhood plan. When we consult on the draft Plan in early 2020, you can see what we’ve been able to achieve and tell us what you think of it – plus you get a vote on it at the end of the process. When our Neighbourhood Plan runs out in 2036, assuming the planning system is broadly the same as now, we can do another one and carry on.
Personally I’d like to protect as much of Broomfield Park as possible, but that’s only my view. Please say in Question 2 what you think – tell us how much of the land should be protected as green space.
It’s suggested that a lot of community facilities could be sited on Broomfield Park. Personally, I think there is only room for a small number if they need buildings. Otherwise you start to eat into the green space too much and encroach on the setting of Broomfield Place, a lovely historic building. If new facilities don’t need buildings (e.g. a nature reserve), it’s a different matter of course.
But that’s only my view. The key thing is that any community facilities – GP surgery, early years facility, nature reserve, work training centre, sensory garden, maybe even a new library – must be what local Broomfield people want. Please say in Question 1 what facilities you do want (if any) by ticking those in the list or adding more.
How would Community Facilities be paid for?
Finally, do remember that there are no magic money trees in Broomfield. If you find one, please let me know first! Everything has to be paid for somehow. There may be grants for some sorts of community facility, but the first question is:
How do we pay for the land?
The normal thing is that landowners offer to give some land, provided they can build private houses or commercial development on the rest. You might not like the idea of commercial housing development, but maybe alms houses might be a different proposition; affordable houses for those who need it. As a Parish Council, we’ve always opposed any residential/commercial development in Broomfield Park, unless ECC agrees to build the long-promised new primary school.
I don’t want anyone to wake up in 20 years and find that the green space has unexpectedly all gone – either underneath community buildings or private housing needed to pay for them – unless that’s what local people specifically want. If you really are happy for housing/commercial development on some of the land to finance the facilities, you need to tell us – parish councillors are here to do what you want as far as we can. But you need to make it clear when you answer Question 3. Otherwise our current position is to oppose it.
So, it’s up to you the people of Broomfield to tell us what you want to happen at Broomfield Park. Whatever you decide, my personal hope is that there’ll still be lots of beautiful countryside in Broomfield for our children and grand-children to enjoy in years to come.