A PARISH council has hit back at Braintree District Council after they released a new conservation area plan.

Wethersfield Parish Council said they were ‘disappointed’ with the new plan which suggest that the district council is seeking to ‘seriously and needlessly undermine’ the area.

A parish spokesman said: “The parish council objects strongly to the needless reduction in the existing designated conservation area by approximately two thirds.

“In the absence of reasoned justification, it does not accept that this is necessary or justified by changed methodology for undertaking appraisals or that there has been an erosion of the special qualities of the conservation since designation in 1973.

“The parish council does not accept that the existing designated boundaries are inappropriate and have been since designation.

“The designated area is a distinct, highly attractive and coherent area of historic buildings and open areas which is in clear contrast to the surrounding arable landscape.

“The existing designated area boundaries are rational and defensible based largely on the historic Manor Estate which has evolved over many centuries and still retains much of its historic character.

The parish council cited many different aspects which they wanted to keep in the new plan including the valley at the northern boundary near Parsonage Farm and the southern boundary at Pant Valley.

Braintree District Council produced the draft earlier this year as a revision which gives broader protection than the listing of individual buildings.

It recognises all features within the area which form part of its character and ensures that planning decisions take the enhancement and preservation of the quality of the area into consideration.

The parish spokesman added: “The council asks that district council officers consider these comments very carefully before a decision is recommended to members because, as you know from the meeting, there are very strong and deeply felt feelings locally on this matter.”

The parish council are urging residents to make their own views known to Braintree District Council before the September 9 deadline.