Eight Ash Green Neighbourhood Plan
3 The Parish of Eight Ash Green
3.1 The Parish of Eight Ash Green came into existence in 1947 taking land from the surrounding Parishes – 641 acres from Fordham, 844 acres from Copford, 125 acres from Stanway and 4 acres from Aldham. At the time, the population was approximately some 600 and the villagers were mainly involved in agriculture and local trades. There were scattered farms and cottages with two main dwelling areas around Fordham Heath as well as the crossroads by what was the Brick and Tile Public House. The Commons at Seven Star Green and Daisy Green were given to our Parish Council in 1973 by deed of gift by the Lord of the Manor of Copford.
3.2 The current socio economic profile of the village shows:-
- Some 1,730 people live locally made up of 1,070 working age adults (62%); 295 children under age 16 (17%); and 365 people over age 65 (21%) - 2011 census
- The majority who work are employed at locations outside the village. Agriculture is no longer a principal class of work. (responses to the 2017 questionnaire)
- There are four distinct areas of residential housing:-
- Spring Lane / Fordham Heath / Heathfields and Searle Way/The Walk and the Rise (medium density);
- Wood Lane and adjacent cul de sacs (low density);
- Fiddlers Folly/Porters Lane and Close (high density); &
- Seven Star Green (low density).
- The 2017 physical survey of the village undertaken by the Neighbourhood Plan Group shows there are some 680 dwellings containing a mixture of housing types comprising:-
- 252 detached houses (37%)
- 129 semi-detached houses (19%)
- 7 semi-detached bungalows (1%)
- 143 terraced houses (21%)
- 122 bungalows (18%)
- 27 flats (4%)
Key facilities and assets
3.3 Within the village is an ancient 36 acre Heath which is both a registered green and has common land status; an open, green landscape both internal and external to the village with several conservation areas; thirteen Grade 2 listed buildings; a public house; a village hall; a church; allotments; a hotel and leisure club; two dental surgeries; a play area for children; eight ponds that support a myriad of wildlife; an Ofsted rated good primary school; and recreation facilities by way of both a cricket and football pitch.
3.4 Assets within 5 kilometres include Colchester town with its multitude of shops and facilities; a good transport infrastructure with links via the A12 and the main London to Norwich rail line at Colchester and local rail services at Marks Tey station; the Stanway shopping and leisure facilities; three GP surgeries including a health centre; and good secondary and further education establishments.
3.5 Following extensive consultations within the village, residents are prepared to accept 150 additional dwellings as outlined in the emerging Local Plan. This represents a twenty-two per cent uplift on the present housing stock but there is no desire to expand any further either in terms of the number of houses or building on any more land in the village during that plan period. That said, the intention is to welcome and integrate the newcomers to the village and way of life.
3.6 The overriding wish of the village is to remain a sustainable, quiet, rural Parish, which overlooks and is part of the beautiful Colne Valley to the north, and is sited on the edge of, but not part of, Colchester/Stanway or the proposed West Tey Garden Community/ New Town.
Landscape Character of the village
3.7 The Colchester Borough Council Landscape Character Assessment provides a baseline inventory and description of the Borough's landscape character types and areas. "Character" is defined as a distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements that make each landscape (or townscape) different. Character is influenced by particular combinations of visual, ecological, historical, settlement, built components, and other intangible aspects such as tranquillity and sense of place.
3.8 The need to protect landscape character has been recognised by Essex County Council together with the need to protect the distinctive character of villages and countryside. The unique character of the village has been set out in the Eight Ash Green Village Design Statement of 2013 refreshed by the responses to the questionnaire of Spring 2017.
3.9 Regionally, Eight Ash Green is categorised as being in the North Thames Regional Character Area. In terms of the Essex County Character Areas, it is categorised as being in the E2 South Colchester Farmlands Area, nestled right up against the C7 Colne Valley Character Area to the north. See map below. It is described as being a "small linear village settlement" with its "setting providing visual and physical separation from Colchester".
Pond at bottom of Lower Heath
3.10 The village is based on sediments of sand and gravel as well as clay deposits and comprises a gently undulating broad plateau predominantly used for arable or improved pasture. It interspersed with woodland and natural habitats in an open environment that provides wildlife corridors, combined with an ancient 36 acre heath.
3.11 The community of Eight Ash Green greatly values the benefits of living in a truly rural village where it does not wish to become a suburb of Colchester as part of a creeping urban sprawl. Whilst the landscape does not merit the award of being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is characterised by a lovely open feel with many natural features such as the Heath, mature trees and woods, ponds and fields lined with ancient hedgerows, footpaths and bridleways. These distinctive features are much valued by the community.
3.12 The Landscape Character Assessment recommends a landscape strategy that will preserve and enhance the distinctive character of villages and countryside. References to and support for such a strategy, are set out below in the appropriate Objectives and Policies sections.
Landscape Character Area
Colne Valley (Eight Ash Green
South Colchester Farmlands