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Building the green barricade By Geoff Percival

October 28, 2006 by  

Building the green barricade
By Geoff Percival

A country park which acts as a green buffer separating Southend from Rochford is set to be extended by 50 per cent under new plans revealed today.

Rochford District Council is behind plans to increase the size of Cherry Orchard Country Park by 80 acres and create a new access.

The council has earmarked £250,000 in this year’s budget to start the ball rolling.

The park, which is on the borders of Southend, is seen as an important green lung for the whole of the area. The first part was opened two years ago by the Princess Royal.

Members of the district council said the acquisition of what was originally Blatches Farm from Essex County Council would ensure there was no development of the site in the future.

There was a real concern that although the area was green belt it could have been sold by Essex County Council for housing leading to loss of a big part of the Roach Valley between Hockley, Rochford and Eastwood.

Council chief executive Paul Warren said: “The aim of the council’s new proposals is to extend the size of the park by around 50 per cent.

“It could then link up with the Edwards Hall Park in Eastwood which is run by Southend Council and also give us access on to Cherry Orchard Road by the new business park.
“At the moment much of the land is used for rough grazing while the other section is in agricultural use.”

Mr Warren said the council had agreed in private session to start negotiations with land-owners to see if the land was available or whether it would be necessary to seek a compulsory purchase order.

The council’s current budget allows £250,000 for the purchase of extra land and other improvements at the country park, already seen as a wildlife haven and a popular destination in the area.

He added it could take some time before the extension became a reality, but the council was hoping to move it forward as fast as possible to ensure the retention of a large area of open space between Southend and Rochford.

The access from the Edwards Hall Park would be for pedestrians only while there would be vehicle access and car parking off Cherry Orchard Road.

At the moment access is severely restricted down Blatches Chase, an unmade road off Western Approaches in Eastwood.

Rochford District Council’s woodland and environmental officer Patrick McKenna said the new park would build on the success of the existing one.

He said: “We are expanding along the beautiful Roach valley to create a wonderful natural experience for residents and visitors to Rochford’s green and pleasant land.

“We will be recreating flower meadows and woodland habitats full of English trees for native bird life, including kingfishers and barn owls.

“In the park next door, you can now spot water voles on the river bank, which are doing extremely well.

“There will also be things like information boards, education leaflets and guided walks.

“There will be a car park and toilets so there will be access for disabled people as well as hardened walkers.”

A deadline of December 2006 has been set to complete acquisition of the land.

1:12pm Monday 16th October 2006

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