About one year ago we published The Tranquil Backwaters of Chelmsford City which detailed a walk from the Sandford Lock along the Blackwater Navigation to Chelmsford. It passed through Baddow Meads and was a very pleasant walk. I commented on “how lucky I was to be able to take such a nice walk into town“. It seems that this entire area is still under threat!
The workshops discussed 82 acres of riverside land. Developers wish to create a “countryside park” by the riverside. Currently the area is a mixture of flood plain, pasture and water meadow. It is a tranquil and largely unspoilt area on the border of Chelmsford. Baddow Meads is a conservation area.
Last week over 200 people attended developer’s workshops to discuss plans to build on Baddow Meads. Countryside Properties are a key player in these talks, although there does not appear to be any suggestion that properties will be built on the land. Every year this area becomes flooded, and it is the last large area of undeveloped flood plain in Chelmsford. It is hard to see how a development could promise that it will not become flooded during periods of prolonged rainfall.
Baddow Meads Allocated To Chelmsford for Recreational Use
Chelmsford City council have declared that the land should be for recreational use, however, at the moment nothing has been decided on how it will be used. Many feel that the public footpaths provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy a little countryside just outside Chelmsford, while others feel that a landscaped park will serve Chelmsford city better.
How Much Will It Cost?
One of the biggest concerns is the cost. The council has already cut back on funding for public parks, so to invest a huge some of taxpayers money on a new park, which already has public access, seems to be a waste of money. Karen Lucas, a local resident who attended the talks, said “Could I suggest that we do nothing? People already care for and enjoy the land“.
Harm to Bird Watching?
A quick review of photos uploaded to Flickr and other Internet photo sharing sites shows that many people enjoy bird watching on Baddow Mead. Any development that involves reducing the amount of water that floods onto the plain (such as the addition of pumping stations and new irrigation channels) could destroy the habitat that current attracts birds such as ibis, meadow pipits, grebes and egrets.
“I reckon there are around 30-40 Meadow Pipits on the Baddow Meads, somewhat down this year as there was a flock of about a hundred here last winter.” – Fozzybear talking on Birdforum, February 2011.
In February 2010 A Feasibility Study into a Walking and Cycling Route from Great Baddow to Chelmsford discusses how the need for a safe cycle route from Great Baddow to Chelmsford has been established for many years and a new cycle path should cut across Baddow Mead into town.
Read the council’s Response to Great Baddow Cycle Route (Report Number (AFM /05/10).
There was talk of a viaduct replacement in March 2010 – see Viaduct set for £14million replacement. “The bridge will be replaced along with new drainage ponds, landscaping and a new lighting scheme, as well as new access arrangements.”
Fozz1138’s Youtube channel – A collection of little wildlife videos I’ve taken on my wanderings around and about.
Painting: Baddow Meads, Chelmsford by Campbell Archibald Mellon