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Press Coverage Highlights

Essex County Standard - 18 July 2014 (pdf 299Kb)
Time to enjoy the view Will fought to protect for years
As Will Pavry stands in the garden
of his country cottage, he might allow himself the slightest smile of satisfaction. For 13 years he was chairman of a campaigning conservation group which fought plans for a £25million heritage centre in the Dedham Vale. And earlier this year, the Secretary of State threw out an appeal for the centre.
The Stour Valley Action Group will continue, but Mr Pavry has been succeeded by Kate Charlton-Jones as chair. He added: "It is time for the younger generation to pick up the reins." Perhaps he will instead stand in his garden and enjoy the view.

Gazette - 11 June 2014 (pdf 249Kb) and Essex County Standard - 13 June 2014 (pdf 177Kb)
We won't build the Horkesley Park plan
But developers say they might look at housing on beauty spot
Controversial plans for a heritage centre in the Dedham Vale are unlikely to be pursued, it has been revealed. The new owners of Horkesley Park, W and H Park, are now drawing up options for the land.
And while the firm has declined to reveal its ideas at this stage, it said a heritage centre, which would have attracted thousands of visitors, is unlikely to be one of the options. One possibility is believed to be for houses on the site of the redundant greenhouses off London Road. W and H Park said it wanted to speak to local people before their proposals are made public - expected to be next month.
Will Pavry, chairman of Stour Valley Action Group, which led the fight against the plans for Horkesley Park, welcomed the firm's intentions to consult the public. He said: "We welcome the fact Pigeon - the parent company of W and H Park - wants to consult as widely as possible with the community and local organisations."

Essex County Standard - 23 May 2014 (pdf 331Kb)
£6 Million: Bunting & Sons assets sold, unpaid debts still £8 million
Land and properties owned by failed business Bunting and Sons has been sold. W & H Park Ltd has spent £6.3million on assets which include Horkesley Park, Westwood Park and The Chantry as well as other properties. W & H Park's plans for the estate have not been revealed but the firm is a subsidiary of Pigeon Investment Management Limited. The firm has accepted a request for a meeting with countryside campaigners from the Stour Valley Action Group.

Administrators Deloitte has produced a six monthly report into Bunting and Sons' business. Deloitte's own costs so far total £672,899. Bunting and Sons is still owed £90,000 for the sale of Carter's Vineyard. However, Deloitte says the sale of the vineyard, along with the sale of Thrift Farm and the Anchor Inn in Nayland, is still being investigated.

Essex County Standard - 25 April 2014 (pdf 293Kb)
Back to a farming future?
Campaigners call for Horkesley Park to return to agriculture
Campaigners say parts of Horkesley Park could be returned to agricultural use after a 13-year battle to create a tourist attraction came to an end. The future for the land is unclear, with Bunting & Sons in administration and the Horkesley Park land being marketed by Deloitte. Tim Young, councillor responsible for planning, said: "Something will have to be done on that site and the land, but obviously it cannot be the type of development they wanted. It's been a hugely controversial and contentious issue, but I think it puts it to bed once and for all."

Suffolk Free Press - 24 April 2014 (pdf 210Kb)
Visitor centre appeal rejected
Attempts to create a multi-million pound visitor centre in Horkesley Park, near Nayland, are over after a planning appeal was thrown out. Buntings and Sons had been seeking to build the Stour Valley Visitor Centre - including an art gallery, craft studio, gardens and Suffolk Punch breeding centre - for the last 13 years. On Thursday, it was revealed that Secretary of State Eric Pickles had agreed with the findings of an independent inspector and Colchester Council's planning committee that the proposals should not go ahead.

Gazette - 21 April 2014 (pdf 442Kb)
What next for unused Horkesley Park site?
Future unclear for land after campaign win
Campaigners say parts of Horkesley Park could be returned to agricultural use after a 13-year battle to create a tourist attraction came to an end. Nigel Chapman, councillor for Fordham and Stour, said he had heard rumours of interest in returning Horkesley Park to agricultural use, but said he would prefer the greenhouses to be removed. Will Pavry, chairman of the Stour Valley Action Group, said: Whatever happens to the site we would hope something is done which doesn't impact on the tranquilty of the area."

Gazette - 18 April 2014 (pdf 709Kb)
Our battle is over
Why the scheme was turned down. The benefits of Horkesley Park would not outweigh the damage it would cause, an inspector found. Despite new jobs and a boost to the local economy, the planning inspector, who led a four day inquiry into the plans, felt the scheme would harm the Stour Valley. Communities secretary Eric Pickles backed the inspector on every single point raised in the report. It considered three main points: whether it was in a sustainable location, the impact on its surroundings, whether there were any planning considerations which needed to be taken into account.

For & Against
Family firm gives up on Stour Valley Visitor Centre scheme after Pickles rejects appeal
Timeline for Horkesley Park plan

Essex County Standard - 18 April 2014 (pdf 206Kb)
Delight as Horkesley Park appeal rejected
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has blocked an appeal to allow Horkesley Park to be turned into a tourist attraction. The decision spells the end of 13 years of efforts by Bunting & Sons to create the Stour Valley Visitor Centre on 101 acres of land partly in the Dedham Vale. In a 96-page decision, Mr Pickles ruled the increase in tourism and jobs to north Essex would have been 'clear benefit'. But he said estimates by Bunting & Sons would attract 316,000 visitors a year were over-optimistic. He also found it would represent major development in the countryside.

East Anglian Daily Times - 18 April 2014 (pdf 305Kb) - or on EADT Website
Axe falls on bid for £25m heritage centre as inspector rejects appeal
Campaigners celebrated last night after controversial proposals to build a £25 million visitor centre on the Suffolk-Essex border were rejected at appeal by a planning inspector. The saga of the proposed Stour Valley Visitor Centre at Horkesley Park is now over after a 13-year battle to get permission for the 100-acre attraction.

Mr Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said: "I am hugely relieved, it's a vindication of the campaign to protect Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley"

Essex County Standard (website) - 17 April 2014
Horkesley Park saga over after appeal rejected
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.”

Gazette - 31 March 2013 (pdf 500Kb)
Wind farm veto raises hopes in Horkesley: Pickles to consider Northants case when ruling on visitor centre
Campaigners are hoping a High Court ruling stopping a wind farm being built near historic gardens in Northamptonshire will also scupper Bunting & Sons' Horkesley Park plans. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said he will look at the ruling to block plans for four 400ft-tall turbines as he considers the family firm's controversial Stour Valley Visitor Centre proposals. Mr Pickles is due to rule on May 6 on the Buntings' appeal against Colchester Council's refusal to allow the £20million visitor centre.

Essex County Standard - 6 December 2013 (pdf 524Kb)
We will not see a penny
Firms owed £1million by bust Buntings have no prospect of getting it back say administrators
Bunting and Sons, which went into administration last month, recognised its position was unsustainable in December 2011 and started selling off assets, including the Anchor Inn in Nayland, Thrift Barns in Horkesley and Carter's Vineyards in Boxted.  Now assets, including Westwood Park and Horkesley Park are set to be sold as going concerns.
Demise of Bunting & Sons
Bunting creditors face losing £1m

Company's £5million assets to be sold as going concerns, but financial experts doubt creditors will get their money.

Gazette - 4 December 2013 (pdf 655Kb)
Buntings owe you cash? Forget it!
Administrator's warning to creditors owed £1 million by family

A report by administrators Deloitte for the High Court of Justice states there is "no prospect" unsecured creditors will get their money back - a total of nearly £1million.  Unaudited accounts showed the long-standing Colchester firm had borrowed more than £14 million in bank loans.

Buntings owe us cash... but we've got little hope of getting it back
Creditors face a loss of almost £1 - Collapse blamed on failure or centre
The administrator's report also states they do not expect the banks to be repaid in full. They are now trying to sell the assets as going concerns and expect this to be done within the year.

Suffolk Free Press - 31 October 2013 (pdf 268Kb)
Administrators called in to save family company: Future of visitor centre plunged into doubt
Plans for a multi-million pound tourist centre near Nayland hang in the balance after news the applicant has gone into administration. 
Family firm Bunting & Sons is behind the scheme to develop 117 acres of land at Great Horkesley.  But Bristol-based administrators Deloitte has been appointed by the bank to handle the company's affairs. A spokesman for Deloitte said: "The joint administrators were appointed by the court following a failed bid by the directors to refinance the business. The joint administrators are continuing to trade on a limited basis while a controlled wind down of Westwood Park is affected and will continue to manage the exit of tenants from properties.

Essex County Standard - 25 October 2013 (pdf 670Kb)
Buntings in crisis: 12 year park bid blamed

-year-old business goes into administration 'due to the protracted nature of the Stour Valley Visitor Centre application'

Gazette - 21 October 2013 (pdf 270Kb) or link to Gazette website
Dedham Vale centre could still go ahead
Campaigners vow to kept fighting as financiers confirm visitor centre plans could be sold on
The fight against a controversial visitor centre in the heart of the Dedham Vale will go on - even though the firm behind it has gone into administration. Administrators Deloitte have now been appointed by the bank to handle the firm’s affairs for Westwood Park and Horkesley Park. It could also look to get a new buyer for the Stour Valley Visitor Centre project - if it gets planning permission from the Secretary of State. Charles Clover, chairman of the Dedham Vale Society, said the group would continue to fight the plans.

Gazette - 18 October 2013 (pdf 464Kb)
Buntings in cash crisis
The firm behind the controversial Horkesley Park development goes into administration.
Bank calls in Deloitte to troubled business
One of Colchester's oldest businesses Bunting and Sons has gone into administration. Aspects of the
family's business concerns affected include Westwood Park, which hosts weddings and conferences, and its agricultural interests at Horkesley Park. It does not include Carter's Vineyard, in Boxted. Administrators Deloitte have now been appointed by the bank to handle its affairs. It said it would continue to trade "to secure the best outcome".

BBC News Essex - 18 October 2013 - (pdf 124Kb) or link to BBC News website
Bunting and Sons in administration after Stour Valley centre bid
A decade-long planning wrangle for a countryside visitor attraction has sent the firm behind the proposals into administration, it is claimed. The nearly 200-year-old business Bunting and Sons wanted to create the Stour Valley Visitor Centre at the 113-acre Horkesley Park near Colchester. But earlier this year, Colchester Borough Council rejected the proposals.

East Anglian Daily Times - 18 October 2013 (pdf 312Kb)
Heritage park bid is dealt a new blow
Business behind project goes into administration

Bunting and Sons, which has been in existence since 1820, went into administration on Wednesday. In a statement released yesterday, partner Stephen Bunting said: “Bunting and Sons has been placed in administration by the bank. All parties involved remain confident of a positive outcome and swift resolution.” The news comes just weeks after hearings took place as part of an appeal against a refusal to grant planning permission to the Stour Valley Visitor Centre. But it is believed the current situation will not put an end to the proposed heritage attraction and that the administrators will be looking at the planning application and its value.

Essex County Standard - 11 October 2013 (pdf 158Kb)
Decision on Stour Valley visitor centre appeal due early in 2014

Building a visitor centre at Horkesley Park would have a major impact on the "peace and tranquility" of Dedham Vale, an MP told a planning inquiry. Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said this would "detract" from the Dedham Vale area of natural beauty, on which part of the land lies.

Suffolk Free Press - 10 October 2013 (pdf 207Kb)
MP urges inspector to refuse appeal

A government inspector heard arguments for and against the creation of a visitor centre at Horkesley Park during an appeal hearing last week. Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, spoke at the inquiry, despite the area falling outside his constituency, as he claimed it would have substantial impact on Suffolk.

Gazette - 7 October 2013 (pdf 179Kb)
Visitor centre 'would hit peace of Vale'

Building a visitor centre at Horkesley Park would detract from the “peace and tranquillity” of Dedham Vale, a north Essex MP has told a planning inquiry. Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich & North Essex, spoke at the fourth and final day of an appeal by Bunting & Sons against Colchester Council's decision not to award planning permission for the Stour Valley Visitor Centre. Mr Jenkin added he had been “overwhelmed” at the number of people contacting him to express their opposition to the project, while very few people had spoken in favour.

Essex County Standard - 4 October 2013 (pdf 863Kb)
After 12 years, and millions of pounds, Horkesley Park inquiry gets under way

Twelve years ago, the Bunting family first put forward proposals to build a Visitor Centre at Horkesley Park. However, their plans have been vigorously opposed by a large section of the local community which has rallied organised opposition to its schemes at every turn. On Tuesday all parties met at the Langham Community Centre before government planning inspector Colin Ball who will have the final say. A final decision is expected in early 2014.

Gazette - 2 October 2013 (pdf 617Kb)
Appeal hearing opens into £25million visitor centre

Buntings' expert told to keep quiet

An expert hired by affluent businessman Stephen Bunting had to watch in silence as a planning inspector opened an appeal into a visitor centre in the heart of the Dedham Vale. Mr Collins attempted to contest a point made by Mrs Dodwell about the development's visual impact. But Mr Ball warned: "You have chosen to have no active part in this inquiry. I cannot allow you to take part in some parts of the inquiry and not in others."
'An enormous change'
The proposed multi-million pound tourist attraction would have an "enormous" effect on the Dedham Vale, according to experts.
Proposal 'Is not viable'
Experts have claimed plans for the Stour Valley Visitor Centre are not viable.

Gazette - 1 October 2013 (pdf 139Kb)
Horkesley Park appeal opens

A crunch planning appeal has opened today into plans to build a visitor centre in the heart of the Dedham Vale. During the hearing, experts claimed the centre plans are not viable. Consultants acting for Colchester Council have told a planning inquiry a travel plan put forward for getting to the attraction is flawed and visitor numbers have been vastly overestimated. Transport expert Christopher Hargreaves added: “The appeal site is poorly served by the more sustainable modes of transport of walking, cycling and public transport and cannot be considered accessible by these modes.”

Essex County Standard - 27 September 2013 (pdf 366Kb)
'NO CASH LEFT FOR LAWYERS' Horkesley Park visitor centre developers reveal they have no money for lawyers at massive planning inquiry
The family behind plans for a major tourist centre in Constable Country has revealed it "is not in a position" to pay for lawyers at a crucial planning inquiry. Stephen Bunting, senior partner at Bunting and Sons, said: "Unfortunately, funds for this pre-development phase have now been exhausted and therefore we are unable to have legal representation and expert witnesses at the inquiry."

Private Eye - 20 September 2013 (pdf 480Kb)
The Hei Wei Inn
The landscapes that inspired John Constable are no longer enough to encourage visitors to the Stour Valley in Essex. What this lovely part of the world needs, according to a senior official at the council council, is a Chinese-themed "visitor centre" to entice coach parties of Chinese tourists. Also writing from a County Hall address is Mr Fan Zihgang, "China-Jiangsu representative for economic affairs and trade in the UK". He writes: "To be honest sometimes I felt Essex is lack of nice hotels and attractive spots when I arrange itineraries for Jiangsu delegations." Quite so! But not anymore, if there's a Chinese pavilion with a Constable view. And, perhaps, just a few shops to go with it...

Suffolk Free Press - 19 September 2013 (pdf 239Kb)
Inquiry to rule on visitor centre
The pros and cons of a proposed development near Nayland will be heard at an appeal inquiry on October 1. Its recently published business plan forecasts the project would attract 316,000 visitors a year, spending £7.5million on tickets, refreshments and souvenirs. But one of the main opponents, the Stour Valley Action Group, remains unconvinced. Chairman, Will Pavry, said: "We have seen the business plan and are more convinced than ever that Horkesley Park would fail financially."

Essex County Standard - 13 September 2013 (pdf 263Kb)
Chinese firm pledges to back Horkesley Park: Big corporation to build Confucianist garden at visitor centre

A Chinese corporation with a turnover or more than £1 billion has pledged to invest in the proposed Horkesley Park development, it has been disclosed. Information published ahead of a planning inquiry next month claims a "major Chinese corporation" and one of the 225 largest construction companies in the world is backing the controversial visitor attraction. Georgina Harding, a spokesman for the Stour Valley Action Group, said: "They're pushing Horkesley Park as a celebration on the English countryside when there's a small garden which will apparently bring in coachloads of Chinese turists. The whole thing is a bit confusing.

Gazette - 19 August 2013 (pdf 194Kb)
Put an end to tedious debate over visitor centre
I would ike to make a couple of points. Firstly to draw attention to how long the residents of the villages surrounding the proposed site have had to put up with this relentles process..... Secondly, in addition to the cost to indiividuals from local communities in both time and funds, the cost to Colchester taxpayers is exorbitant.....

Essex County Standard - 16 August 2013 (pdf 542Kb)
Battle lines drawn for appeal hearing
Buntings reveal business case for centre kept secret so far
Parties are preparing their arguments
for a 12 day hearing

Key questions the inspector must rule on

Gazette - 13 August 2013 (pdf 348Kb)
Constable Country visitor centre 'will earn Essex £3.9m'
A business plan published by Bunting & Sons says a visitor centre in Constable Country would attract more than 300,000 people and £3.9 million in spending a year. A planning inspector will hear the first of 12 days of evidence on October 1 before making a recommendation to the Governnment.

Essex County Standard - 8 March 2013 (pdf 793KB)
NO will cost you dear, say Buntings
Firm is confident of success in appeal - Council urges company to rethink and submit fresh proposal

Business case was the nub
Although Colchester Council's planning committee refused the application on the grounds of the damage it would cause to Constable Country, the issue of viability dominated the debate.
Campaign is not over
Campainers admit the fight to stop a visitor centre being built in the heart of Constable Country is far from over.

Essex County Standard - 8 March 2013 (pdf 487Kb)
Area Of No Buntings Horkesley Park decision is balanced and correct
Valley may stay true to its nature now
What drives plan into its 13th year?

Essex County Standard - 2 March 2013 (link to website)
Campaigners braced for Horkesley Park appeal
Campaigners against plans to build a visitor centre in Constable Country say they are ready to fight on after Bunting and Sons vowed to appeal against the decision not to let it build a visitor centre.

East Anglian Daily Times - 2 March 2013 (pdf 700Kb)   &   Frontpage (pdf 246Kb)
Family to fight on for heritage centre
The family behind the project to build a £25million tourist attraction of the Essex/Suffolk border have insisted they will fight on to see the project come to fruition.
MP demands to know why £25million bid rejected

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said he was “disappointed” with the borough council planning committee’s rejection of an application to build the 100-acre Stour Valley Visitor Centre, at Great Horkesley.
But borough councillor Mark Cable, who sat on the planning committee, said he could not agree to a project “he felt in his heart would not work”. He added: “The planning officers fought tooth and nail to convince us they were right. But it is for us to take their advice and interpret it.”

Not Sustainable
Chairman of the Stour Valley Action Group, Will Pavry, said: “They go against Colchester Borough Council's planning policies - they are not deliverable or sustainable. The Buntings will have to examine the council’s document and weigh up the benefits of appealing, as it will be expensive. We will continue to oppose the plans and will stand beside Colchester Borough Council as it will have to defend its decision.”
MP for North Essex, Bernard Jenkin, who spoke out against the plans earlier in the week, said the planning committee had “come to the right decision”.

BBC News Essex - 1 March 2013 - (link to website)
Horkesley Park heritage scheme rejected by council
Plans to build a multi-million pound countryside visitor centre in Essex have been turned down by planners.
Will Parry, from the Stour Valley Action Group, said: "We are delighted that the council has rejected it as it would have caused major damage to the Dedham Vale AONB.  The site should be used for agriculture and horticulture and we will carry on fighting inappropriate development."
Kate Bunting, from the developers, said:  “We're fully committed to the scheme and bringing it to fruition so we will move forward with the appeal process."

Daily Gazette - 1 March 2013 (pdf 918Kb)   &   Frontpage (pdf 200Kb)
After years of planning rows, Horkesley Park plan gets a .... NO!
Campaigners have won their fight to stop a visitor centre being built in the heart of Constable Country.
350 people, mostly protesters, packed planning committee meeting
Centre would put town back on tourism map
Fears over secrecy turn councillors against ambitious scheme
Protesters see off plan for Hoskesley Park

Colchester council's planning meeting last night refused Bunting & Sons' application for the Stour Valley Visitor Centre at Horkesley Park by ten votes to four after a nearly five hour meeting. Reasons for refusal were unsustainable location for development and adverse impact on the area of outstanding natural beauty.

Essex County Standard 22 February 2013 (pdf 641Kb)
Battle lines over Horkesley Park Bid
'Council has failed'
Campaigners call in London lawyer to investigate officers: The Stour Valley Action Group have employed a London lawyer to investigate whether Colchester Council officers have acted unlawfully. Campaigners say: “We believe they have failed on the way they have handled the documents.” The council says the meeting with applicants and the consultants “was a regular meeting as part of the process with the applicants”.
‘We have listened’: Buntings optimistic ahead of planners’ vote on Thursday
Officers say …
The three consultants say …
A meeting that will make history
Debate does not end here

Essex County Standard 22 February 2013 (pdf 204Kb)
Who are advisers working for here?
It's a question of council's conduct

East Anglian Daily Times 18 February 2013 (pdf 196Kb)
Report into tourist attraction delayed
Officers at Colchester Borough Council were due to publish a report setting out recommendations for Horkesley Park last week ahead of the planning meeting on February 28. The council says it is taking "additional legal advice on a number of interesting procedural points" in relation to the application.
The Stour Valley Action Group has appointed a lawyer to challenge the application, in particular those elements which have not been made public. The council's planning chief confirmed the delay was caused by a difference of opinions between the lawyers representing the council and the action group.

East Anglian Daily Times 5 February 2013 (pdf 197Kb)
Constable paintings pledge for centre
The company behind plans for a new £25million heritage centre in the Stour Valley insists it will display original paintings by John Constable. But a spokeswoman from the SVAG said: "Knowing the extraordinary value of Constable paintings, and knowing that Constable's works and their whereabouts are exceptionally well documented, the Stour Valley Action Group has been attempting to check the credibility of these claims. If they insist they cannot release some information on the works they propose to exhibit on the grounds that it is commercially sensitive, then we can only suggest that the council take steps to verify their claims in advance of the planning meeting."

Essex County Standard 2 February 2013 (pdf 236Kb)
Buntings: We will show Constables...... ....but art critic says there is 'no realistic possibility'
Bunting and Sons has reaffirmed its commitment to displaying original works of art by John Constable if it gets permission to open a visitor centre.
William Feaver, art critic, curator, historian and broadcaster, said: "I can state with absolute certainty there is no realistic possibility of any national institution lending works by Constable to the proposd gallery. Nor is there any likelihood of private owners - most of them known to me - lending either. No museum would be prepared to lend to a commercial venture of this sort."

Essex County Standard 2 February 2013 (pdf 184Kb)
Constable gallery claim is ridiculous
Trust custodians of our countryside

Essex County Standard 25 January 2013 (pdf 190Kb)
Horkesley Park meeting moves to bigger venue
One of the biggest planning meetings in Colchester's history will be held in Charter Hall. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the meeting to discuss the Stour Valley Visitor Centre at Horkesley Park. It is the first time the venue at Colchester Leisure World, which has a capacity of 400, will be used for a planning meeting.
Will Pavry, chairman of the Stour Valley Action Group, said: "Colchester Council should recognise the strength of feeling on Horkesley Park. We and the other organisations show how deep is the local feeling the Dedham Vale should not be put at serious risk by the totally misconceived Stour Valley Visitor Centre at Horkesley Park.
Essex County Standard 25 January 2013 (pdf 300Kb) (letters)

It's a Trojan Horse not Suffolk Punch
Vague notions to overrule the rules?
Final round of our fight for the Vale

Essex County Standard 18 January 2013 (pdf 187Kb)
Opponents to countryside centre sound rallying call
Opponents of a proposed multi-million pound visitor centre in th heart of Constable Country are to lobby councillors to stop it being built. One of the opposing groups, the Stour Valley Action Group, is calling on protesters to attend a crucial meeting at Colchester Charter Hall on February 28 to show th strength of feeling.
Bunting and Sons say they have made provision for the centre to carry original Constable paintings which were seen as critical by one consultant to attract visitors. Kate Bunting said "The arrangements for obtaining these is commercially sensitive.

Essex County Standard 18 January 2013 (pdf 537Kb) (letters)
Visitor centre decision is a complex balancing act
They can't possibly approve the park
The plot thickens in Butings case
How will they get the Constables?
Green light would undo all our work
Refusal is the only credible option

Suffolk Free Press 17January 2013 (pdf 118Kb)
Date set for centre decision

A planning meeting to decide the future of Horkesley Park, near Nayland, has been delayed for a fortnight.

Essex County Standard 11 January 2013 (pdf 158Kb) (frontpage)
Countryside in Conflict : Battle lines drawn as serious questions raised over park bid
A new furious row has erupted over controversial plans to build a countryside attraction in Constable Country. This week, Colchester Council released three reports it had commissioned about the scheme. All three raise major concerns over the ventures viability and its effect on the countryside.
Essex County Standard 11 January 2013 (pdf 750Kb) (main article)

Advisers question viability of park bid
Issues raised over visitor number and commercial viability
Three reports have been
commissioned by Colchester Council: one recommends the council supports the development but serious concerns have been raised by each of them.
Consultants' verdicts
Reports include: Britton McGrath Associates, Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, transport planning specialists Vectos and the Council's planning policy report.
Buntings: reports are 'fundamentally flawed'
The firm vying to develop the
Stour Valley Visitor Centre has reacted strongly to criticisms from council commissioned consultants.
Public debate could clinch the issue

Colchester Council came under fire for not releasing details of reports it had specially commissioned in relation to Horkesley Park.
Essex County Standard 11 January 2013 (pdf 283Kb) (letters)
Beware failure in duty of AONB care
Council's handling of park bid wrong
Authority fails to serve the people

Essex County Standard 28 December 2012 (pdf 271Kb)
Stour Valley Visitor Centre wins backing of planners
A bid to build a visitor centre in the north Essex countryside will be supported by Colchester planning officers, it has been revealed. The proposal has drawn fierce criticism from opponents who say it will damage the Dedham Vale. Will Pavry, chairman of the Stour Valley Action Group, said: "we don't believe the officers have taken into account the most recent changes in planning policy." He pointed out a report commissioned by the council made it clear the application was not considered viable as proposed.

East Anglian Daily Times 24 December 2012 (pdf 155Kb)
or click for EADT web page
Great Horkesley: Planning officer takes “favourable” view of controversial heritage centre plans

A senior planning officer at Colchester Borough Council (CBC) announced the Planning Service’s recommendation “would be favourable” towards the application for Horkesley Park Heritage and Conservation Centre.
The controversial project was refused planning permission last May. The Stour Valley Action Group strongly opposed over the potential increase in traffic to the area and the level of space dedicated to retail.
But chairman of the Stour Valley Action Group Will Pavry said the campaigners would do “everything they can” to stop the application being approved. He said: “The application appears to be contrary to the Borough Council’s local plan and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Furthermore we understand that the East of England regional plan has been withdrawn by central Government and can no longer be considered part of the framework so there is no way it should go in."

Essex County Standard 17 August 2012 (pdf 155Kb)
'Poster subterfuge of theft?'
Campaigners against a scheme hoping to attract thousands of visitors to the Dedham Vale have claimed vandals have deliberately removed protest posters. Fred Grosch, of Holly Lodge Farm, Great Horkesley, said about 15 of them had been torn down from The Causeway during two nights.

Essex County Standard 10 August 2012 (pdf 201Kb)
Horkesley Park bid 'would break national policies'
Opponents of tourism development submit their official report: A report from an independent planning consultant concludes the application is in conflict with many policies at national, regional and local levels. Specifically it does not accord with the provisions in the new national planning policy framework designed to protect AONBs. The Stour Valley Action Group added the application did not include a business plan and it questions the financial viability of the project.

East Anglian Daily Times 10 August 2012 (pdf 168Kb)
Questions over site's financial viability

A campaign group claims a controversial visitor attraction will not be financially viable if it is given planning permission. A campaihn spokesman said: "A report by Pomery Planning Consultants concludes the application is also in conflict with many policies at national, regional and local levels.

Suffolk Free Press 9 August 2012 (pdf 73Kb)
Park would lose '£2m'

The Stour Valley Action Group has claimed the Stour Valley Centre at Horkesley Park would make a loss of more than £2million in its first year in a response to Colchester Borough Council.

Essex County Standard 13 July 2012 (pdf 403Kb)
Protestors: Conservation centre is a 'Trojan Horse'
Opposition remains steadfast to proposals for a heritage and conservation centre in the Dedham Vale. More than 100 members of the Stour Valley Action Group (SVAG) attended a meeting to discuss the latest and fifth application from established family firm Bunting and Sons.

Essex County Standard 15 June 2012 (pdf 246Kb)
Heritage centre opponents urged to carry on fighting
A battle cry has been issued for opponents of the new Horkesley Park development to fight on. A new application, called the Stour Valley Centre, has been submitted to Colchester Council.

Essex County Standard 8 June 2012 (pdf 248Kb)
Latest Buntings' bid is officially handed in to council
Developer Bunting and Socs has submitted its plans to vreate a countyside centre at Horkesley Park.

Essex County Standard 11 May 2012 (pdf 604Kb) - plus front page headline (pdf 230Kb)
Buntings: 'New centre will be an asset to the area'
New plans reduce heritage centre by a third and retail space by 80 per cent following campaigners' concerns.
Olympic architect brings new ideas
The fresh plans have been drawn up by architect Sir Michael Hopkins who is new to the team. Stephen Bunting said: "Sir Michael has created a complex of a range of buildings interspersed with open space, gardens and courtyards".
Fresh bid revives three-year saga
Will Pavry, a spokesman for the objectors to the firm's plans, said: "We believe that it is actually very surprising that they have put in a fifth application, with the others having been so firmly rejected each time around, some of which without even going to council."

Essex County Standard 27 April 2012 (pdf 254Kb)
New Horkesley Park plans go on display
Revised plans for a controversial heritage and conservation centre in the heart of the Dedham Vale are to go on display for the first time next month. Kate Bunting said final details for the plans would be put together before a public consultation on May 10 and 11, which well be held in the Women's Institute Hall in Great Horkesley between 3pm and 9pm.

Suffolk Free Press 10 November 2011 (pdf 168Kb)
New heritage centre bid on smaller scale
Bunting & Sons have confirmed they will not appeal against Colchester Borough Council's decision to reject their application for a £25million heritage and conservation centre on the edge of the Dedham Vale AONB. They will submit a new, smaller-scale application to develop the 117-acre site at Great Horkesley.

Essex County Standard 4 November 2011 (pdf 444Kb)
Fight for heritage centre
One of the area's most controversial developments, Horkesley Park, is going back to the drawing board. The firm behind the proposal, Bunting and Sons, has revealed it will not appeal the council's decision to reject previous proposals. However, they are working on a new, scaled down version which it hopes to unveil next year. Will Pavry said: "I am not surprised they are not going to appeal. If the new application is scaled down we would be interested to look at it".

East Anglian Daily Times 2 November 2011 (pdf 201Kb)
Fresh bid to develop heritage site pledged

Developers have announced their intention to submit "scaled down" plans for a controversial heritage site after planners rejected previous proposals. Will Pavry, of Stour Valley Action Group, said: "We will have to wait and see what the scope and scale of the application is before giving any full reaction, but we will always want the tranquillity of the countryside to be conserved".

Essex County Standard 3 June 2011 (pdf 418Kb)
Buntings to appeal after £25m heritage centre bid thrown out: we will not take No for an answer
Defiant Stephen Bunting has said he will continue to press on with his plans for a heritage centre in the heart of the countryside, even though it has been overwhelmingly rejected by Colchester Council.
The planning committee heard the main building of the conservation centre would be as long as almost half of Colchester High Street. It would be as wide as the length from the top of High Street at its junction with Head Street, down to Marks and Spencer and would stretch back to Culver Square.
Officers deny bias
Councillor Richard Martin was warned after he criticised planning officers in the debate. Planning officer Vincent Pearce said: "I can assure you, over the past 2½ years, we have sought to dig into the application to find all the benefits and the negatives."

Suffolk Free Press 2 June 2011 (pdf 264Kb)
Protesters' joy as plans denied
Campaigners opposed to a planning application for a £25million heritage and conservation centre in Great Horkesley are delighted it has been refused. The packed meeting was attended by around 150 protesters, with more turned away outside, and 50 Bunting family members and employees. There were 25 speakers in all, for and against the application. Colchester Borough Council's planning committee backed the recommendation of their planning officer by voting 11-1 to reject it.

Colchester Gazette 30 May 2011 (pdf 583Kb)
Horkesley park heritage centre
is rejected - Damage to area would outweigh benefits
Buntings vow to fight on despite spending £1.5m on the failed bid
Stephen Bunting insisted the planning officer's report and its approach to policy was fundimentally flawed.
Campaigners delighted at scheme's failure
Campaigners welcomed the fact that the countryside had been saved from the Horkesley Park development - described as "effectively a shopping centre".
Council is ready to defend refusal
Nick Barlow, councillor responsible for planning, said the council would vigorously defend its decision, if required.

East Anglian Daily Times 28 May 2011 (pdf 275Kb)
Developers vow to fight on: Park application rejected but 'moving forward with appeal process'
Bunting and Sons had sought to build Horkesley Park, a £25 million development in the north Essex countryside but Colchester Borough Council's planning committee voted against the application after officers recommended the scheme be turned down. Stephen Bunting, partner of Bunting and Sons, criticised the report saying it misled committee members and is appealing the decision. Will Pavry, from the SVAG, welcomed the Council's decision.

East Anglian Daily Times 27 May 2011 (pdf 169Kb)
Heritage site turned down
Controversial plans for a £25million heritage site were last night rejected by Colchester Boorough Council. In a document planners said that Horkesley Park was in conflict with a number of regional and national policies to "conserve and enhance the countryside".

Colchester Gazette 27 May 2011 (pdf 280Kb)
Public pack debate over heritage centre
More than 200 peaple packed into a meeting to discuss controversial plans for a £25million heritage centre.
The meeting was still ongoing as the Gazette went to press but the gazette-news website later reported:
Horkesley Park conservation centre is turned down
A scheme to create a massive tourist attraction in north Essex has been turned down.
Colchester Council refused planning permission for the Horkesley Park heritage and Conservation Centre proposed for Dedham Vale, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Essex County Standard 20 May 2011 (pdf 699Kb)
The message is 'NO'
As decision day looms, planning officers advise councillors to turn down Bunting and Sons' heritage and conservation centre proposal.
Protesters walk for an open countryside
Hundreds of residents joined forces to create a physical representation of their opposition to the Horkesley Park proposals.

Essex County Standard 20 May 2011 (pdf 182Kb)
Letters to the Editor
Scale and ambition are incompatible with site.

Suffolk Free Press 19 May 2011 (pdf 113Kb)
Protestors' final say on centre
Around 300 protestors turned up on Sunday to take part in a final demonstration against the proposed £25m heritage and conservation centre at Great Horkesley.

Colchester Gazette 17 May 2011 (pdf 240Kb)
'NO' to £25m tourism site - Councillors told: Reject Horkesley Park plans
Heritage centre plan is likely to be turned down
Colchester Council's officers have spent more than two years considering an application to build Horkesley Park. They have recommneded the planning committee rejects Bunting and Sons' proposal when it meets next Thursday.

East Anglian Daily Times 17 May 2011 (pdf 214Kb)
'Heritage centre in battle for approval - planners recommend refusal for £25m project'
Hopes for a major tourist development in the heart of the north Essex countryside have suffered a major setback after planning officers recommended the plans be turned down.

BBC News Essex 16 May 2011 - click to see the TV video
'Protesters flag up 'no' to Horkesley Park campaign'
BBC News

Campaigners staged a big protest in Essex over plans to create a new tourist attraction. Critics say the development in the Stour Valley, called Horkesley Park, could ruin the countryside.

East Anglian Daily Times 16 May 2011 (pdf 408Kb)
'Protestors oppose £25m tourist attraction'
The Stour Valley Action Group organised the event before the planning application will be considered by Colchester Borough Council on May 26. Local residents and campaigners met beside the development and walked across to a large hayfield where they formed a large human "NO". Chairman of the group, Will Pavry, said, "It will be hard for the planning committee to ignore the significant degree of local concern this application has provoked."

Colchester Gazette 16 May 2011 (pdf 480Kb)
'You're going to ruin beauty spot' - protest against heritage plan
'We're saying no to heritage park'
Hundreds of protestors turned out to say a resounding "NO" to plans for a heritage centre. They claim Bunting and Sons' plan to create a £25million visitor centre on 117 acres would be detrimental to wildlife, increase traffic and ruin the Constable Country landscape.

Colchester Gazette 5 May 2011 (pdf 417Kb)
Leave constable country alone: Artist's relative joins the fight to stop £25m plan
The great, great, great-grandson of John Constable says Horkesley Park proposal is 'just plain wrong'.
Dr Constable intends to voice his opposition at Colchester Council's planning meeting on May 26 when councillors are to vote on the plans, for 117 acres on the edge of the Dedham Vale Aera of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Essex County Standard 29 April 2011 (pdf 265Kb)
MPs voice concerns over Horkesley Park scheme

Questions over visitor numbers and impact of traffic on roads

Two senior politicians have voiced their concerns over proposals for a new heritage and conservation centre in the Dedham Vale. Now Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, and Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, have both spoken of their concerns about the danger that the scheme might expand further into retail.

Colchester Gazette 25 April 2011 (pdf 715Kb)
Park's fate put to the vote
Verdict on £25m plans coming soon - 10-year battle over site continues
Since the council announced the date for the decision, there has been a flurry of activity by Bunting and Sons to convince people of the scheme's merits, and detractors to persuade Colchester Council's planners and councillors of their fears.
Lots of paperwork - 485,000 visitors on the road - Habitats for animals - Jobs boost to the area
Views on the support and opposition, traffic issues, risks to wildlife, jobs and retail viability.
Bernard Jenkin MP, Bob Russell MP, Charles Aldous (Chairman, Colne Stour Countyside Assoc) and Natural England: reiterate their views.

Essex County Standard 22 April 2011 (pdf 494Kb)
Letters to the Editor
There are too many letters for us to regularly include them in the press pages but these were exceptional.

Suffolk Free Press 21 April 2011 (pdf 179Kb)
£25m centre plans fail to sway council
Nayland Parish Council is to reiterate its previous objections to the proposed Horskesley Park heritage and conservation centre.

East Anglian Daily Times April 2011 (pdf 249Kb)
Storm over newt: heritage centre bid 'will not be derailed' by discovery
The man behind plans for a controversial heritage centre in the heart of the Stour Valley claims the apparent discovery of the protected Great Crested Newts in the area should not derail the bid.

Essex County Standard 15 April 2011 (pdf 396Kb)
Rare newt colony is found near heritage centre site
Calls made for new environmental study to assess risk to creatures.
A colony of a protected species of newt could come under threat if a controversial development goes ahead, it has been claimed.
30,000 send comments to council on heritage park plans
30,000 representations made to the CBC over the plans, but 22,800 made before the Application was submitted. And Bob Russell MP writes in support, saying Horkesley Park will not grow to the size of Colchester Zoo.

Essex County Standard 8 April 2011 (pdf 247Kb)
Decision day looms on heritage centre plans
The final countdown has started over a decision on controversial plans for a heritage centre in the heart of the countryside. Colchester Council is due to vote next month on the plans. Recent submissions have been sent to the council and it has given a deadline of 19 April for new comments to be made.

Essex County Standard 16 July 2010 (pdf 280Kb)
£25m heritage centre plan 'not justified' says report
A damning report has criticised a proposal for the Horkesley Park heritage and conservation centre scheme in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the independant appraisal commissioned by Colchester Borough Council, planning experts Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners concluded the application did not have sufficient regional significance to justify major development in the countryside.

East Anglian Daily Times 30 March 2010 (pdf 207Kb)
Battle lines drawn
Protesters opposed to the Horkesley Park tourist attraction have revealed their final campaogn will be fought with the message"Saving the Stour Valley".

East Anglian Daily Times 27 March 2010 (pdf 184Kb)
Will Dedham Vale Grant end Horkesley project?
Congratulating the Dedham Vale on their £1m heritage lottery grant which will directly benefit the landscape, the wildlife and the people who live there, the question is raised whether this could effect the proposed Horkesley Park development.

East Anglian Daily Times 24 March 2010 (pdf 380Kb)
Beauty spot valley gets £1m windfall
One million pound lottery grant given to Managing a Masterpiece project in the Stour Valley. This is the genuine heritage and conservation project that Horkesley Park fails to be!

Essex County Standard 19 March 2010 (pdf 272Kb)
Experts to advise on heritage centre plan
Consultants have been appointed by Colchester Council to advise on the controversial Horkesley Park heritage centre application.
Traffic impact assessed
A long-awaited traffic report on the impact of the Horkesley Park development on the area’s road network has been completed.
Support for scheme disputed by action group
SVAG Chairman claimed the submissions of Bunting and Sons misrepresented the support for the development.

Essex County Standard 23 October 2009 (pdf 386Kb)
Constable country's lottery bid
The Dedham Vale (AONB) and Stour Valley Project has made a lottery bid. If it is successful, the scheme will deliver a range of wildlife, landscape, archaeology, and visitor-related projects over the next three years. A quotation from Sula Rayska of Rayska Heritage Consultants in Shrewsbury in the ECS article appeared to imply that planning permission for Horkesley Park would be granted. SVAG wrote to correct this impression in a letter to the ECS published on October 30th (pdf 18Kb).

Essex County Standard 3 July 2009 (pdf 415Kb)
Horkesley Park: the north-south divide on council
Concern has been expressed that the new CBC planning committee has no representative from wards to the north of Colchester that will be affected by Horkesley Park. Local resident Lesley Watson says that residents from these wards "have been disenfranchised as far as planning issues are concerned".

Suffolk Free Press 4 June 2009 (pdf 195Kb)
£25m heritage centre delayed

The Highways Agency, a statutory consultee, has told planners it needs more information from developers Bunting and Sons about the traffic implications of the Horkesley Park project before it can comment. Colchester Borough Council's senior planning officer John Davies said: "The council was originally looking at considering the application in June, but we're now waiting for the highways issues to be resolved."

Essex County Standard 29 May 2009 (pdf 175Kb)
Shadow minister backs down over Horkesley Park
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, shadow international trade and development minister, had given his backing for the proposed Horkesley Park heritage and conservation centre during a visit to Westwood Park organised by the Essex Chambers of Commerce. Now Mr Clifton-Brown, has withdrawn his comments. Speaking to the County Standard, he said, "I feel I was misled. I had no idea the issue I was speaking on was such a controversial planning matter".

Essex County Standard 22 May 2009 (pdf 182Kb)
Public inquiry should decide heritage park plan, says MP
North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin has asked for the application to be heard through a public enquiry led by a Government inspector. In his letter, he states: "It contravenes Colchester Council's strategic plan and meets criteria for calling in".

Essex County Standard 15 May 2009 (pdf 300Kb)
Traffic questions hold up heritage park plans

The Highways Agency, a statutory consultee on planning applications, has said the bid cannot be approved until it has received more information about the traffic implications of the scheme.

Essex County Standard 8 May 2009 (pdf 245Kb)
BOMBSHELL: Damning council report criticises Horkesley Park project and voices concerns on 'negative traffic and landscape impacts'

The report's conclusion states: "It is considered the tourism and job creation benefits of the Horkesley Park proposal have been overstated and are, in any case, outweighed by the negative traffic and landscape impacts of its large scale."

Essex County Standard 8 May 2009 (pdf 355Kb)
Battle lines drawn over Horkesley Park plans

With the consultation period now closed, leading groups have given their support - to both sides. Among those opposing are the National Trust, Natural England, CPRE Essex, and the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Advisory Committee whilst the East of England Development Agency, Essex Chambers of Commerce, Banham Zoo and the Suufolk Horse Society support the application.

Essex County Standard 1 May 2009 (pdf 172Kb)
Heritage centre proposals 'to be heard in weeks'

Colchester Council's principal planning officer, Mr John Davies said it was hoped the application would be considered by the planning committee by June 10. He said all submissions would be considered but added, "At the end of the day, the main consideration will be the policy issues - local policies along with the core strategy and the national guidelines - these are going to be crucial in determinng the application."

Suffolk Free Press 30 April 2009 (pdf 177Kb)
Farmers and traders oppose heritage plan

Twenty Stour Valley farmers and 32 owners of small businesses have signed letters to Colchester Council objecting to the proposed Horkesley Park heritage and conservation centre.

East Anglian Daily Times 28 April 2009 (pdf 237Kb)
Famous name against heritage centre

Dr John Constable, the great-great-great grandson of the artist who painted landscapes in the Dedham Vale, said he believed the Horkesley Park conservation and heritage centre was out-of-sacle and out-of-keeping with the countryside around it. He added,"There is not a chance of it becoming a major Constable centre. It is too far away from the major Constable associations of Dedham and Flatford Mill." He went on to say in the online edition of this article, “It would become a large retail site and I really don't think people want to come to Constable country for Bluewater-on-Stour. It just doesn't seem the right thing to do."

East Anglian Daily Times 24 April 2009 (pdf 258Kb)
Heritage centre plan objections submitted

SVAG has now formally submitted its objections to Horkesley Park. The protest group employed its own independent consultants to help prepare their submission document. (Click here for details)

Essex County Standard 24 April 2009 (pdf 296Kb)
Author fights to stop heritage park, as 30,000 people back controversial plan
30,000: fact or fiction? In response SVAG issued a press release (see below) detailing how that the 30,000 figure cannot be factual.

"I'd be sad if this went ahead"
Says world renowned children's author and artist Mick Inkpen who backs the objection. He adds, "Although Horkesley Park wants to celebrate bygone, rural heritage it is attempting to do this by resorting to the very opposite".
Protest group sets out its objections
SVAG employed independent consultants to prepare its formal objection letter with detailed reasoning for submission to Colchester Borough Council. (Click here for details)

East Anglian Daily Times 18April 2009 (pdf 274Kb)
Major support for Vale visitor centre

The East of England Development Agency backs Horkesley Park saying it would bring significant benefits to the area. However, in SVAG's consultants' views the potential number of visitors to the park and the projected level of spend per visitor is grossly overstated, which would undermine the employment figures suggested.

Essex County Standard 17 April 2009 (pdf 422Kb)
Standard Focus: the great Horkesley Park debate

Featuring: Just a taste of things to come, say protestors; 32 firms object to council; Culture issue claims writer; Farmers fear the impact of more cars; "It doesn't bear thinking about".

Suffolk Free Press 16 April 2009 (pdf 188Kb)
Vintage fire engine joins roads protest

Vehicles of all shapes and sizes out to highlight potential congestion: The rally was hailed as a success making a powerful point for SVAG, but Stephen Bunting dismissed it as an inappropriate publicity stunt.

East Anglian Daily Times 14 April 2009 (pdf 335Kb)
Villagers campaign against heritage site
Hundreds of cars, tractors and lorries were out in force to highlight the possible impact that Horkesley Park could have on the local way of life.

Daily Gazette 14 April 2009 (pdf 304Kb)
Fight against centre is taken to the road
Hundreds of campaigners brought traffic to a standstill in Constable Country with a four-wheeled protest at plans for a heritage centre. Will Pavry said, "We want to make sure the community at large is fully aware of the impact the Horkesley Park development will have on the A134 and all the other local roads".

Essex County Standard 10 April 2009 (pdf 218 Kb)
Site objectors take protest to the roads
SVAG plan to take to the roads to highlight their concerns. Will Pavry said, "The intention is to inconvenience the travelling public as little as possible while demonstrating what the impact of traffic on the A134 might be like if this proposal were to go ahead."

Suffolk Free Press 9 April 2009 (pdf 227Kb)
Protesters call to put rural roads to the test
SVAG has called a rally on Easter Monday to demonstrate their concerns. Kate Charlton-Jones said, "If Horkesley Park was up and running, Easter would be a peak time so we are providing our own holiday traffic."

Essex County Standard 27 March 2009 (pdf 246KB)
77,632 would visit the centre in August alone
A report accompanying the application shows huge projected visitor numbers with 3,505 visitors a day during August. The cost of an adult ticket for the whole site is expected to be £14.95. Tickets prices for the country park would be £10.95 for adults and £7.45 for children. Objectors question whether this centre will be viable.

Essex County Standard 27 March 2009 (pdf 695Kb)
Horkesley Park battle lines drawn between residents and the Buntings
The journey has taken Buntings nine years; they claim they have listened to the public and made changes to the proposals. SVAG still have major concerns and will continue the fight, which has been going on longer than the Second World War, to protect the Dedham Vale AONB for future generations.

East Anglian Daily Times 16 March 2009 (pdf 233Kb)
Legal threat over tourist site claims
SVAG accused of misinformation. Click here for details of the letter from Buntings (pdf 1.1Mb), and of SVAG's response (pdf 17Kb).

Essex County Standard 6 March 2009 (pdf 541Kb)
Vale in the running for world heritage status?
"The construction of a major retail park, which is in essence what the so-called Heritage Centre at Horkesley Park will be, could well prejudice any application for inclusion on the UK's nominations for the World Heritage List" explained Robert Erith, president of the Dedham Vale Society.

Essex County Standard 27 February 2009 (pdf 409Kb)
Battle over £20m heritage scheme
The plans for a major tourism centre in the Dedham Vale have evoked concerns among villages and groups dedicated to protecting the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley. Bill Watson, chairman of Little Horkesley Parish Council said, "The retail element seems to be completely dominant in the scheme which is supposed to be about countryside and nature". Charles Clover, chairman of the Dedham Vale Society said, "Total sales from the scheme have been put at £13.4 million a year - that is retail development".

Suffolk Free Press 26 February 2009 (pdf 396Kb)
Renewed plan for heritage centre
Updated plans for an ambitious £20 million heritage and conservation centre have failed to convince objectors concerned about the impact on the character of the Stour Valley and the surrounding villages.

East Anglian Daily Times 20 February 2009 (pdf 313Kb)
Bid for new heritage park is resurrected
In this announcement of their latest planning application Buntings claim they have overwhelming support, backed by a petition, for their project. SVAG said they would need to examine the latest proposals before giving a considered view on them. This begs the question, what did those signing the petition sign up to support?

Essex County Standard 20 February 2009 (pdf 144Kb)
Good for some ... but is it good for everyone?
Editirial comment asked the crucial question: "This project, if given permission, will change Great Horkesley and the surrounding villages forever. The question is: for better or worse?"

Essex County Standard 20 February 2009 (pdf 402Kb)
£20m heritage centre unveiled: A place to celebrate the English countryside
Buntings announced a new planning application has been submitted for their centre. They claim the latest proposals have been drawn up after listening to the views of the public. SVAG was unable to comment before the article went to press.

Essex County Standard 3 August 2007 (pdf 159Kb)
The only news is no news.
Bunting's application would appear to be delayed until the autumn.

East Anglian Daily Times 25 June 2007 (pdf 264Kb)
'Support' claims for rural centre attacked
As protestors hit back at claims of support for the heritage centre Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, said he regarded this development was too controvesial to be resolved locally and can only be settled by a public inquiry.

Essex County Standard 22 June 2007. (pdf 217Kb)
'90 per cent support plan, say Bunting's
s continue with their claim that the majority of visitors to their events supported the proposed scheme. However the Chairman of SVAG believes these figures are pretty misleading.

Suffolk Free Press 21 June 2007. (pdf 220Kb)
'Buntings: We have backing for Stour plan'
Following a 'public consultation' to gauge reaction of the public, Buntings announce that the majority of visitors were either supportive or voiced no objection to their proposals.

Suffolk Free Press 24 May 2007. (pdf 368Kb)
'Art historian gives heritage site warning'
At his lecture on 'Who owns Constable's Country?' Professor Michael Rosenthal of Warwick University said of the proposed Horkesley Park, "Having studied the plans, I think the centre has got the potential to create a lot of environmental damage".

Suffolk Free Press 17 May 2007. (pdf 470Kb)
‘Protesters step up Stour centre fight’
SVAG backed up by Nayland with Wissington Conservation Society urge objectors to 'Say No to Horkesley Park' when a new application is submitted.

East Anglian Daily Times 11 May 2007. (pdf 294Kb)
‘Heritage centre plan under fire in protest’
Making a point: Protesters say everything that Buntings are proposing already exists in the area - amazing garden centres, marvellous old pubs, and Suffolk Punches still being used at Stoke by Nayland.

East Anglian Daily Times 12 April 2007. (pdf 288Kb)
‘Art historian attacks plans’
Michael Rosenthal is to give a lecture highlighting the changing demands on the region's landscape, backing the campaigns of SVAG and the Nayland with Wissington Conservation Society.

East Anglian Daily Times 9 April 2007. (pdf 311Kb)
‘Concerns over tourist scheme’
Retail elements under attack. Will Pavry, SVAG chairman, expresses concerns that the proposed application will not be significantly different to previous applications.

East Anglian Daily Times 2 April 2007. (pdf 428Kb)
‘New plans for major heritage attraction’
In their fourth attempt at gaining planning Buntings announce a consultation process. A £15,000 3D model is to form part of an exhibition ahead of new plans for a controversial countryside tourist attraction.

Country Life 6 April 2006 (pdf 344Kb)
'Constable Controversy'
Country Life
‘ Constable country retains its beauty and tranquillity thanks to sustained earlier battles fought notably by the architect Raymond Erith, the Dedham Vale Society and the National Trust. The Stour Valley Action Group is fighting for an equally worthy cause.’

Evening Gazette 4 April 2006. (pdf 189Kb)
‘Heritage Scheme Withdrawn’
Controversial plans for a Constable heritage centre have been withdrawn while improvements are made to the scheme.

Essex County Standard 3 March 2006 (pdf 94Kb)
‘New row over Constable Centre’
Suggestions of financial links between backers of a controversial John Constable heritage centre and a far eastern constrution company which has expressed support for the project have been dismissed as ‘completely untrue’.

The Mail On Sunday 26 February 2006 (pdf 555Kb )
‘ Chinese Invade Constable Country’

‘ Peking backs plan for £20m theme park that locals fear will ruin Hay Wain landscape for ever.’

Private Eye 17 February 2006 (pdf 109Kb)
‘Sweet and Stour’

‘ Anger in Essex over plans for the Horkesley park “heritage centre” – a 100,000 sq ft garden centre with 1,125-seat café in Constable country.’ The oddity of a classical Chinese garden in this ‘celebration’ of Englishness.

The Guardian TRAVEL 11 February 2006 (pdf 22Kb)
Architecture correspondent Jonathan Glancey considers the implications of Horkesley Park in his listing of the travesties and wonders of the world’s tourist landscapes.

The Guardian 4 February 2006 (pdf 469Kb)
‘ Theme Park proposal makes waves in Constable Country’

Plans for a £20m tourist attraction in the valley that inspired John Constable have provoked accusations that a quiet slice of the English countryside is about to fall victim to theme-park tourism.

The Daily Telegraph 4 February 2006 (pdf 623Kb)
‘ Storm gathers over Constable ‘Theme Park’

Villagers fear tourists will destroy rural tranquillity

Evening Gazette 2 February 2006 (pdf 151Kb)
‘ Business petition against country park’
A group of small businesses have banded together to sign an open letter against the proposed Horkesley Park development.

The Mail on Sunday Property on Sunday 29 January 2006 (pdf 858Kb)
‘ Why this Constable theme park may destroy the very countryside he loved’
Danae Brook offers a personal view on plans for a ‘conservation’ centre in the stunning valley that inspired The Hay Wain.

Financial Times 28 January 2006 (pdf 544Kb )
‘ Constable Country’s brush with controversy’

Plans for a £20m ‘theme park’ development celebrating the painter’s life and times face vehement opposition.

Essex County Standard 6 January 2006 (408pdf )
Viewpoint. ‘This is why we don’t need heritage scheme'
Will Pavry, SVAG chairman, puts the case against the Horkesley Park development.

Essex County Standard 30 December 2005 (pdf 306Kb)
Viewpoint. ‘Why we need a Horkesley heritage centre’
Stephen Bunting of Bunting and Sons puts forward his case for the Horkesley Park Heritage Park and Conservation Centre.

Essex County Standard 16 December 2005 (pdf 358Kb)
‘Traffic fears over heritage park plan’
and ‘Save us from ‘theme park’.
Great Horkesley parish council opposes park plan, and farmers are calling for the Essex countryside to be saved from the threat of a ‘theme park’.