Community project gets the chop

PUBLISHED: 12:16 19 May 2009 | UPDATED: 21:47 31 May 2010

A COMMUNITY group has been dealt a bitter blow in its bid to create a new 21 acre woodland in Birchanger. The residents were keen to snap up the unused farmland at the south-east of Pesterford Bridge, just outside Stansted Mountfitchet, when it came onto

A COMMUNITY group has been dealt a bitter blow in its bid to create a new 21 acre woodland in Birchanger.

The residents were keen to snap up the unused farmland at the south-east of Pesterford Bridge, just outside Stansted Mountfitchet, when it came onto the market last month.

However, the project stalled after the group's offer to meet the guide price of £100,000 was not accepted. It is assumed they were outbid for the land.

Ken McDonald, spokesman for the group, described the news as "bitterly disappointing".

"The owner had been advised of the group's intention to safeguard the land against building development and turn it into woodland.

"The proposal had been welcomed as a way of protecting and enhancing the countryside and also of supporting planning policy to avoid coalescence of the villages of Birchanger and Stansted."

The group had gained sizeable local support towards the project. Some £40,000 had been pledged from 30 individuals, and it was hoped that Stansted Mountfitchet and Birchanger parish councils and Essex County Council would also contribute towards the cost. Ideas of how to develop the overgrown land were even discussed at a public meeting, while suggestions for a possible name for the wood were put forward.

Although it is not known who the successful bidder is, the agents expect to finalise the land sale by the end of May.

Mr McDonald said local residents now have an anxious wait to find out the identity and intentions of the prospective new owner.

"Hopefully we will at least find out who they are after the deal is completed," he said. "We may then ask the purchasers if they would be interested in selling part of the land.

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