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The Wivenhoe Encyclopedia

About Cook's Shipyard

The Town Council has worked hard to secure the best possible deal for Cook's Shipyard, working closely with CBC and the developers.


When the original outline planning consent for 90 houses expired in 1998, the Town Council, through the Wivenhoe River Users' Group (WRUG), set about revising the Development Brief / Supplementary Planning Guidance which allowed for 80 3-bedroomed properties to be constructed on the site. 

The Town Council and WRUG worked closely with CBC Planning Officers during 1998 to approve a new Brief which would restrict the number of houses to a maximum of 50. 

Regrettably that Brief was abandoned because of the weight of public opinion in favour of acquiring Cook's as open space. Work started on the 10 year Colchester Local Plan with input by various Wivenhoe groups into the future planning policies relevant to  Wivenhoe.

The Town Council throughout this period stressed the importance of the river frontage to Wivenhoe and its character.  We made it clear that any developer must make the Wet Dock a proper home for Wivenhoe's fishermen as well as giving them shore-based space; we wanted more facilities for different types of boats to be able to visit Wivenhoe and moor here. It is important to us that Wivenhoe retain its maritime character. Any development of Cook's must therefore also retain a 'feel' for the shipbuilding history of the site. We wanted not just the inevitable new homes but also some properties which would be purposely designed to encourage home-working, to try and ameliorate peak-hour traffic generation in the narrow access roads, as well as some which could become craft workshops. 

There must be plenty of space too for people to enjoy the river through being able to walk freely and safely along its banks and around the Wet Dock area. There must be play space provision for children, and a public toilet too. We wanted at least one of the slipways retained for use by local boats for occasional maintenance. 

All of these points and issues we put into a new Development Brief, comprising some 25 pages of detailed notes, that we worked on during the early part of 2001. By then, it was clear that a planning application from Lexden Restorations would have to be considered by the Colchester Borough Council's Planning Committee long before the Local Plan process would be concluded in late 2002. 

This Development Brief also considered the issues surrounding traffic generation and our concern for the impact of people living on the access roads.  We wanted to make sure that their views and interests were also taken into consideration.  This document formed the basis for what was to follow.  

In February 2002, a local development company, Lexden Restorations, obtained outline planning consent for their proposals to build 85 homes on Cook's. We were pleased that they took notice of so much that went into our Development Brief.

Subsequent to the outline planning consent, the Town Council established a Working Party of Town Councillors and invited representatives of five local interest groups to have representatives on it too, in order to work with CBC on all of the detailed issues to do with this important and sensitive development scheme.

During the summer of 2002, Councillors and other people worked hard on various aspects of the planning application and in particular on issues that would be the basis of a Section 106 agreement between the Borough Council, Town Council and Lexden Restorations.  Meetings were held with the developer and agreement reached on wide-ranging matters that would benefit the residents of Wivenhoe who were particularly concerned about the consequences of increased traffic on the narrow streets in lower Wivenhoe. 

These negotiations concluded with agreement for people to walk all the way along the river bank, on the jetty and elsewhere through the development; for the scheme to include a small car park for cars of visitors, a public toilet, use of the wet dock as a base for local fishermen, a fishermen's store, a dinghy park and a children's play area. One of the old shipyard slipways will be preserved too, and under the control of the Town Council along with some of the other facilities.    

In September 2005, Lexden Restorations reached an agreement to sell the scheme on to Taylor Woodrow. This company is bound by the planning consents and Section 106 agreement negotiated by Lexden Restorations. Members of the Town Council have met with Taylor Woodrow on a number of occasions in 2005 and since, and have formed a good working relationship with people in the company.   

Having seen Cook's Shipyard as a derelict site for nearly 20 years, and whilst one might wish it was still a place where small ships were being built, the Town Council looks forward to its transformation into an exciting residential development that will complement Wivenhoe's Conservation area. We were pleased to note that the first 6 properties sold have been to people with existing Wivenhoe addresses!   
Note: Construction materials: When we first met with James Moodie of Taylor Woodrow, shortly after they took over the scheme, he advised us they wanted to bring construction materials to the site by barge. They had already provisionally secured a barge and use of a wharf in Rowhedge to bring materials across by river. Very sadly, these plans came to nothing since the legislation which was used to closed down Port operations of the Hythe, prevented use of the river for commercial purposes and lawyers deemed it also prevented use of the river for this purpose. Despite best endeavors of many people, a way could not be found around this legislation.      

Cllr Peter Hill


Click on the link below for some views of Cook's Shipyard provided by  Brian Simmons - ex plater


Last updated:
05 January 2015

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