We’ve seen a petition being shared on social media asking people to ‘Save Sandford Mill’ and there seems to be some confusion about what is planned for this area of East Chelmsford. We hope the following explainer might give a better overview of what is actually happening in this area of the city and bring a little light rather than heat to the debate.

Sandford Mill isn’t under threat

Despite the controversial headline, the site most people recognise as Sandford Mill doesn’t need to be saved because nothing is happening to it. The Sandford Mill site is not part of the proposals being considered.

The place being referred to in the petition as ‘Sandford Mill’ is a section of East Chelmsford, which can be seen on the map included in this post. This consists mainly of private agricultural land to the east of the city which the public can walk through using public and permissive footpaths.

Some of the land marked out on the map below has been allocated to meet the city’s growing demand for houses, jobs and businesses. A much bigger part has been allocated to become a new country park for residents with better access to this area so that more residents can enjoy this wonderful green space.

This is a summary of what is planned for each of the specific areas marked on the development map.

Site 3a (country park)

This 60 hectare area will become the city’s newest country park, giving residents access to the whole of this area which will remain a natural haven of countryside for East Chelmsford.

Site 3a (residential), Site 3c and Site 3d (residential developments)

Three areas of private agricultural land have been earmarked for residential developments. The Local Plan allocates around 400 homes across these three sites, of which 35% must be affordable housing. We’ve noticed a few comments about concerns that these homes will be built on a flood plain. An assessment of these sites has been carried out in conjunction with the Environment Agency and these areas are not within a high flood risk zone.

Site 3b (space for businesses and the Park and Ride)

This site near the A12 has been allocated for businesses and an extension to the Sandon Park and Ride.

This development is part of Chelmsford’s adopted Local Plan, one of our most important planning documents. It sets out the overall number and locations for homes and employment, along with the infrastructure needed to support growth, whilst protecting green spaces and heritage. 

We have a Local Plan so that Chelmsford can decide how to manage its own development. If we didn’t have one it would be down to developers and the government to determine how to meet the needs of the city and we wouldn’t get much of a say. 

Chelmsford started working on its Local Plan back in 2013 and there have been three separate rounds of public consultation in 2015/16, 2017, and in 2018. Options for East Chelmsford outlined in the summary above have been part of each of these public consultations.

Since then, there have also been two public consultations about Masterplans for the area. These are high level documents that set out what we’d expect from a new development. 

We also held a local plan review until October 2022, to allow residents to feed into the review process at an early stage, to help to shape the Local Plan and the future of the area.

We adopted our Local Plan more than two years ago, and the allocation for this site won’t now change.

The planning application from Redrow Homes (refs. 22/00916/FUL and 22/00916/OUT) was open to consultation until 10 August 2022. You can view the responses through our planning portal. 

The application relates to sites 3b, 3c and 3d only. Site 3a (Manor Farm) and the country park are being brought forward by a separate developer (Hopkins Homes) and a planning application for these are expected later this year. 

If, after reading some of the facts about what is happening in East Chelmsford, you’d still like to sign a petition to ‘Save Sandford Mill’ then you are, of course, free to do so. However, this petition can’t be accepted as a formal representation to the current planning application. 

New developments are an emotive issue and however much they are needed we know and understand that they are rarely welcomed by their immediate neighbours. If you are posting a comment here or on any of our social media accounts, please be respectful of others and remember to comment on the planning application if you wish your views to be officially heard.

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Last updated: 31 October 2022