Mistley Quay

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Free The Quay


Case in the High Court : from Free The Quay

The High Court hearing into TWL’s application to cancel the registration of the Village Green finished on Friday 15 July.

During the 7-day hearing the Court heard evidence from Mr Parker of TWL and two other TWL witnesses, one of them a traffic expert, Ian Tucker and Keith Garwood. Essex County Council argued the case for upholding the registration of the TVG in an extensive closing submission.

All parties have been asked by the judge to come back with further statements to clarify the position on points of law, which the Claimant TWL had raised in his closing submission; a final judgement is not expected until after the summer break.

Update: April 2015

The battle to establish the right of the community to use Mistley Quay as a Village Green has moved to the High Court.

Following a nine day inquiry conducted by Alun Alesbury QC on behalf of Essex County Council almost two years ago, the Council declared Mistley Quay to be a Village Green. As a result, the people of Mistley and visitors to the area could continue to enjoy activities which had always taken place on the Quay.

TW Logistics, the operator of the port at Mistley, has now applied to the High Court for the decision of ECC to be reviewed; ECC will be defending their decision at a hearing later this year which is expected to last between 5 and 10 days.

In the meantime, nothing will prevent the local community from continuing to use the Quay. A number of fundraising events are planned for the summer to meet the costs of supporting ECC in defending the proceeding brought by TWL. Please visit Free The Quay for more details.

Quay is Britain's newest village green - even though there isn't a blade of grass in sight
The Independent 8 August 2014

With its concrete apron, occasional passing HGV or forklift truck and backdrop of decaying industrial buildings, Thorn Quay is far removed from the traditional image of an English village green. 

But for the community of Mistley on the banks of the River Stour, whose previous residents range from a zealous Witchfinder General to an 18th Century MP who wanted to turn it into a world-beating spa, rarely takes no for an answer. As a result it is celebrating after winning a six-year legal battle to have a stretch of historic concrete quayside belonging to a bulk port operator designated England’s newest - and perhaps most unusual - village green.

The ruling by Essex County Council that the 60mx10m area of waterfront known as Thorn Quay, with sweeping views over the river estuary and a population of resident swans, has been used as a public area for at least two decades - not to mention the best part of three centuries - is a hard-won victory for campaigners who have fought to have a 6ft fence barring access to the river taken down.

Mistley Quay
Click for the full article in the Independent

Mistley: New hopes quay fence will go after inspector recommends area be given Village Green status
East Anglian Daily Times: 8th November 2013

Campaigners hoping to see a two-metre tall fence removed from a popular beauty spot have been buoyed by a report recommending the area be given Village Green status.

The inspector appointed by Essex County Council (ECC) to consider the application, Alun Aylesbury, has now reported back to the council with a recommendation the quay be given Village Green status.

While the recommendation must now be considered by the county council’s development and regulation committee before a final decision is reached, Free The Quay see this as an important milestone in their battle and are optimistic the committee will adopt the inspector’s findings.

Click to view the EADT full article

EADT November 2013

Fence campaign could be ending
ITV Anglia: Sunday 3rd November 2013 at 7pm

A public inquiry into the application to have the Quay declared a village green took place in June and July this year and witnesses spoke of how they had used the area for recreational purposes for 20 years. However, objectors argued that the area needed to be fenced off for public safety. **Both sides are now waiting for the inspector, Mr Alun Alesbury, to report to Essex County Council.

Click to view full article on itv.com

ITV 3 November 2013

Village green bid for concrete Mistley quay
BBC News Essex: 24th June 2013

A public inquiry is under way into an application to get a concrete quay declared a village green.

The village green status bid follows a row over a fence put up five years ago by the owner of Mistley Quay, in Essex. . But campaigners, who say it is an eyesore which restricts access, have applied for village green status in the hope it will force TWL to remove the fence.

The inquiry, under way at Mistley Village Hall, is expected to last four days. The inspector hearing the village green application will produce a report for Essex County Council which will then decide the matter.

BBC 24 June 2013

Click to view full article on BBC News Essex

Mistley Quay fence campaign future decided at meeting
Gazette: 2nd October 2012

ANTI-FENCE campaigners who are fearful of more damage to their beauty spot will hear of their fate at a planning meeting.

Tendring Council’s planning committee will decide whether to permanently activate a rarely used piece of legislation on Mistley Quay fence at its meeting on Tuesday, October 2.

Click to view full article on Gazette website

Gazette 23 June 2012


Going green: new move to win back quay access
Campaign group advised to apply to change site's legal status
Essex County Standard - 17th September 2010

A protest group has launched a fresh attempt to get public access to Mistley Quay restored.

Protest group Free The Quay is now applying for the quay to become a village green under the 2006 Commons Act.
This would mean the fence would have to come down, but could be replaced with a smaller barrier, allowing the public legal access to the water.

Campaigners are hopeful the move could score them a victory within six months. Click to view press article (pdf 233Kb)

ECS 17 September

Mistley: Legal action for controversial fence?
Harwich & Manningtree Standard 7th May 2010

LEGAL action could be taken after a controversial fence on Mistley Quay was repaired without planning permission, the Standard can reveal.

Tendring Council tabled a motion in March, which prevents any fences or walls along the quay being altered, maintained or improved without its permission.

But enforcement officers visited the site last Friday after it was reported a quay worker had damaged the fence and it had been repaired by owners Trent Wharfage straightaway.

The council has confirmed it is taking legal advice after the revelations.
Nancy Bell, who lives on Mistley Quay, witnessed the event. She said: “The fence was damaged by a quay worker last Thursday.
“ I saw one of them accidentally drive a crane into it and two panels came crashing down to the floor.“ But they had repaired it and put the panels back up again within half an hour.”

According to the Article 4 Direction implemented by Tendring Council, Trent Wharfage should have applied for planning permission to put the panels back up again. But the council has confirmed it was not consulted about the work and is considering taking legal action against the Mistley Quay owners.

It could mean the company could be prosecuted or served with an enforcement notice.

Members of campaign group Free the Quay, which has fought for the fence to be taken down since it was put up in September 2008, said they were aware of the situation. Simon Bullimore, of the group, said: “We are of course supportive of Tendring Council in enforcing planning law and if this can have some beneficial effect on removing the fence then so much the better.”

Nigel Brown, Tendring Council’s communications manager, said the council is aware of the damage caused to the fence at Mistley Quay and officers have visited the site.

“ They have investigated the situation and it appears that repairs have been made to the fence,” he said. “We are now looking into the next course of action and are taking the necessary legal advice.”

Trent Wharfage was unavailable to comment.

Mistley: New action in fence fight
Harwich & Manningtree Standard 19th March 2010

NEW ACTION is being taken in a fight over a controversial fence in Mistley.

Tendring Council has announced it is applying for permission to enforce new rules, which would mean any fences, walls or gates at Mistley Quay would need planning permission. And any current fences on the site would also need permission to be altered, maintained or improved.

The move comes after months of campaigning from residents in Mistley after owners of the Quay, Trent Wharfage, erected a two metre high fence at the site following health and safety advice in September 2008.

Campaign group, Free the Quay have protested against the metal fence ever since.

Now Tendring Council, which believes the fence is excessive compared to other ports in the area, has applied for an Article Four Direction.

Sarah Candy, Tendring’s cabinet member for planning, welcomed the move which she said would mean much greater controls at the quayside. “The existing fence has angered many people who had previously enjoyed uninterrupted access to the water and an unrestricted view over the Stour Estuary,” she said. “On top of this, in October 2009, an emergency rescue from the river was impeded by the fence and the council fears a similar situation could arise in the future.”

Mrs Candy added that putting up any structures two metres high without proper planning controls could seriously affect the character and appearance of the Manningtree and Mistley Conservation Area. “The fact that the fence is also clearly able to be seen from the High Street damages the Conservation Area and the setting of listed buildings in this area,” she said. “The council is therefore using its powers to make an Article 4 Direction to control walls, gates or fencing along the quayside. This new way forward has been achieved through partnership working between Tendring’s planning service, Essex County Council and the community.”

The current fence at the quay was put up under permitted development rights but the new rules would mean any new fences put up would have to be given approval by Tendring Council’s planning department.

Kate Worsley, spokesperson for Free the Quay, said: “Free the Quay whole-heartedly welcomes this very positive development, which is thanks to the ongoing efforts of our local councils working with the local and sailing communities to reopen the Quay.”

The Article Four Direction is being submitted to the Secretary of State for communities and local government for approval.

Mistley Quay Images

Tranquility before the fence

Action to increase control over structures at Quay
Tendring District Council - 18th March 2010

New action is to be taken in a bid to gain strict control over any fencing, walls or gates being put up at Mistley Quay.

Tendring District Council (TDC) is making the move to prevent the construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of any such features at the site - without the owners first seeking planning permission.

TWL Mistley Quay and Forwarding put up a two metre close-meshed wire fence in 2008, claiming it had the power to do so under permitted development rights. The company, which owns and operates Mistley Port, said the works were necessary to comply with health and safety requirements but it attracted widespread objections from many residents and boat owners.

The Council believes that the fence is excessive when compared to other ports in the area. It is now going for an Article 4 Direction which will prevent further similar structures over one metre unless planning permission has been granted.
Sarah Candy, Cabinet Member for Planning at TDC, welcomed the move which she said would mean much greater controls at the quayside. "The existing fence has angered many people who had previously enjoyed uninterrupted access to the water and an unrestricted view over the Stour Estuary," she said. "On top of this, in October 2009, an emergency rescue from the river was impeded by the fence and the Council fears a similar situation could arise in the future."

Cllr Candy added that putting up any structures two metres high without proper planning controls could seriously affect the character and appearance of the Manningtree and Mistley Conservation Area. "The fact that the fence is also clearly able to be seen from the High Street damages the Conservation Area and the setting of listed buildings in this area," she said. "The Council is therefore using its powers to make an Article 4 Direction to control walls, gates or fencing along the quayside. This new way forward has been achieved through partnership working between TDC's Planning Service, Essex County Council and the community."

The Article 4 Direction is being submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for approval.

Mistley: Keys given out for emergencies
Harwich & Manningtree Standard 20th November 2009

KEYS have been given to emergency services for access to a controversial quay.

Trent Wharfage, owner of Mistley Quay, has given keys to police and coastguards so they can access the site, which was fenced off last September, in case of an emergency. The move came after the fence was cut by the coastguards during a rescue effort on the water at the quay on October 10.

Within days the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed to the Standard they would look into the situation.
In a statement this week, an HSE spokesman, said: “We have been informed by Trent Wharfage that discussions have been held with the RNLI about access to Mistley Quay. We understand the company has agreed to provide a key, so coastguards can enter the working part of the dock. This means the RNLI will have access to that area of Mistley Quay as well as other points already available along the water.”

In the event of an emergency, Thames Coastguard co-ordinates rescues which can include sending RNLI teams out on the water.
Rosie Tapping, a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said the incident last month saw a casualty rescued and then brought up alongside the fenced off quay area, to be transferred to a rescue team. She said: “The local coastguard have now been given a key, which allows them access to the quay in the event that a casualty has been brought alongside that area.”

Mistley Police, who it is believed already had an emergency access contact number - arranged with the owners of the quay - have now also been given a key. PC Chris Phillips, from Mistley police, said: “It’s excellent that we’ve been given a key. It will enable us to access the quay in an emergency and will hopefully mean that any incident in that area can be dealt with swiftly.”

Since the two-metre fence was erected, after advice from the HSE, protest group Free the Quay have been campaigning to have it removed or replaced with a smaller fence. Kate Worsley, Free the Quay spokeswoman, said she felt the fact keys have been given to emergency services showed there needed to be access to the quayside.

And Nancy Bell, who lives opposite the fence on Mistley Quay, added: "I think Trent Wharfage hides behind health and safety. They say the Health and Safety Executive told them to put the fence up but years ago they took ladders and lifebelts away.”

Trent Wharfage was unavailable for comment.

Review of Mistley Quay safety fence after rescue drama
Harwich & Manningtree Standard 19th October 2009

HEALTH and safety chiefs are to review the need for a 2m-high fence at Mistley Quay.

The Health and Safety Executive made the announcement in light of a rescue operation which was hampered when rescuers had to remove a section of the barrier.

Campaigners who staged a protest on Monday, after the rescue, welcomed the news. Kate Worsley, Free the Quay spokesman, said: “It is about time. That’s brilliant news. If it means they can talk to the quay owners and find a more sensible and safer solution, that’s fantastic. The HSE never asked for a fence on this scale in the first place. If it can find a solution that satisfies health and safety, we will be happy with it.”

The rescue on Saturday afternoon saw three adults and a teenage boy plucked from the River Stour after their boat sank. Passing yachts pulled three of the party to safety, but one stayed with the boat before the Harwich lifeboat took them to the quayside. Part of the steel fence had to be unbolted by coastguards and residents before the lifeboat could moor up and meet an ambulance.

The fence was put up last September by Trent Wharfage, which was asked by the Health and Safety Executive to install safety measures. A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said: “In light of what has happened, the HSE is reviewing the matter.”
When asked how much power the Health and Safety Executive would have in any ruling it made, the spokesman added: “Any organisation would have to follow HSE instruction.”

The Gazette contacted Trent Wharfage yesterday but no one was available for comment.

Mistley Quay Boat Rally
October 2009

An East Coast Armada arrives for a Third Mistley Quay Boat Rally at Allens Quay Mistley in support of the local Free the quay group, to aid them with funds to help in legally removing a 2 metre high and 130 metre long metal fence.
Hundreds of people attended the rally
Over 30 vessels moored at Mistley Quay for the end-of-season rally, despite sailors having to scale the two-metre-high steel fence by ladder.

Controversial fence at Mistley Quay hits the headlines once again
'Protest sparked by quay rescue drama'
Colchester Gazette 13th October 2009

Coastguard needed help to allow lifeboat to land Fence protestors surround office of quay boss

Drastic action - a section of fence had to be removed.
Click for full story, Colchester Gazette 13 October 2009 (pdf 356Kb)

Pull it down - objectors outside the office of Michael Parker, boss of Trent Wharfage, owners of Mistley Quay, where they fear a fence is creating a safety risk.
Click for full story, Essex County Standard 16 October 2009 (pdf 195Kb)

Horrific Happenings at Mistley Quay

DVS Committee Member, Charles Clover, who is also the Environment Editor of The Daily Telegraph, has, through his column, given national prominence to a local issue happening on the very doorstep of the Dedham Vale. In his Telegraph piece Charles states "The historic quay where Thames sailing barges used to load grain is being blocked off with a two-metre-high fence by Trent Wharfage Ltd. Infuriated locals say this has cut off all sorts of established public rights of access to the Stour estuary.

The company says it was acting on the instructions of the Health and Safety Executive, which gave it an ultimatum to replace safety equipment or to declare the port out of use and fence it off".

Mistley Councillor Kate Worsley, a member of the new action group "Free the Quay", is asking concerned local people to write to the relevant local authorities:

Strong Opposition on the Wharf
John Osborn, 11th September 2008

Peter Fletcher, Planning Dept, Tendring District Council, Council Offices, Thorpe Road Weeley CO16 9AJ.
John Hawkins, Chief Executive, Tendring District Council, Town hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 1SE.
Sian Walter-Browne, Legal Dept, Tendring District Council, Westleigh House, Carnarvon Road, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 6QF.
Also Bernard Jenkin MP, House of Comons, London SW1A OAA.
Kate can be contacted via www.freethequay.org
Charles Clover can be contacted at (01206) 323403.

PRESS RELEASE Thursday 11 Sept 2008
Now they want to stop cars too: response to TDC and Trent Wharfage

Section where it is planned to install more fencing within days. John Osborn, 11th September 2008

"Trent Wharfage seems to believe that it can stop the public using Mistley Quay altogether. First it tries to stop pedestrians and river users from using the quay.
Now it wants to stop cars too. This is a highway and this is highway robbery," says Simon Bullimore.

Trent Wharfage (TWL) and Tendring District Council say there is no road for vehicles on the quay. They are wrong.

A public highway DOES exist at the quay
Essex County Council recognises that a publicly maintainable highway to Mistley Quay DOES EXIST. This runs from three different points on Mistley High Street and along a narrow strip on the landward (south) side of the quay. The rest of the quay, owned by TWL, is the non-maintainable highway which widens the strip so that vehicles can use it. This section is the highway used by anyone driving onto the quay. It is used as such by TWL and recognised as such in planning case law.

Section where the fence has already been erected.
John Osborn, 11th September 2008


TWL and TDC must be aware that rights to use a highway arise in much the same way as pedestrian rights of way. A highway is defined as 'a way over which all members of the public have a right to pass and repass'. Free the Quay believes that in the case of the quay, rights of passage by vehicles have been acquired by public use without interruption over a long period of years. TDC should recognise this.

Planning consent is required
Since Mistley Quay is a highway, planning consent is required for the fence.

The GPDO does not apply
Since the fence is adjacent to a highway and is more than a metre in height, it is not covered by the General Permitted Development Order cited by TDC and Trent Wharfage.

Free the Quay is asking TDC to review this issue as a matter of urgency.

Kate Worsley via www.freethequay.org

PRESS RELEASE 3pm Tuesday 9 Sept

Meeting fails to resolve dispute: legal action inevitable

Free the Quay held a meeting with Trent Wharfage at noon today in the hope of resolving the twin issues of the erection of the fence and public access to the quay through dialogue.

Free the Quay is disappointed that Trent Wharfage made it clear that it is determined to erect the fence very much in its current form with the declared objective of preventing public access to the quayside either from land or from the river. The fence is explicitly intended to prevent the public from swimming, crabbing, fishing and mooring off the quay. It will even stop people just gazing at the river.

Legal Action
The meeting leaves Free the Quay with no option but to pursue legal action to stop the fence and to preserve public access to the quay and quayside.

Mistley Parish Council
Ian Rose, chairman of Mistley Parish Council, who was present at the meeting, says: 'Everyone in the village has used this quay throughout their lifetimes for all sorts of purposes –work and pleasure – and this right should continue.'

Public Order
Free the Quay is aware that feeling is running high on this issue and does not want to encourage unlawful or illmannered behaviour, but clearly has no power to control the actions of all those who are opposed to the fence and who wish to keep the quay public.

4.30pm today Quayside Assembly
Representatives of Free the Quay and many local residents will be assembled on the quay from 4.30pm this afternoon to answer any questions the press may have.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Kate Worsley via www.freethequay.org

Mistley Quay:
East Anglian Daily Times, 11 September 2008
from Craig Robinson

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a controversial fence being put up along a quay in a picturesque Essex village suffered a blow last night after planning bosses said they were powerless to intervene.

Tendring District Council said that Trent Wharfage Ltd was not breaking any rules in putting up the metal barrier along Mistley quay.

As a result the authority cannot order the two metre fence be taken down - despite the concerns of local residents who feel it is restricting the view and cutting off public access to the quayside.

A spokesman for Tendring District Council said the barrier did not amount to a development requiring planning permission.

He added: “Secondly, dock or harbour undertakings have their own specific rights to carry out development for the purpose of shipping or in connection with the handling of goods. It appears that the fence in question could also be erected under those powers.

“The council will be putting to the company (Trent Wharfage Ltd) and the Health and Safety Executive the understandable local public concerns about the appearance of the fence and its impact in limiting public access to the waterside and the use of the quay by boats for mooring purposes.

“However, this council has no powers to require the removal or modification of the fence. Moreover, it has no jurisdiction over what private or public rights may or may not exist over the land in question.”

Kate Worsley, a parish councillor and member of protest group Free the Quay, said the campaigners were taking legal advice and were optimistic about being able to establish rights of way to the quay and the mooring.

“We've been told the fence is within a conservation area and therefore planning rules and arrangements should apply,” she said. “However, if that's what Tendring District Council has said then we will have to get back to them.”

Trent Wharfage Ltd - which owns Mistley Quay - has said the fence is necessary and stems from advice given by the Health and Safety Executive under the requirements of the Docks Regulations Act 1988.

Representatives from the company recently met with campaigners - which included Mrs Worsley - to discuss the fence and come up with a solution.

A spokesman said: “The attendants accepted the need for a fence but objected to an industrial fence on conservation grounds. Cllr Worsley suggested various designs for cast iron fencing. The port explained why these alternative fencing models failed to address safety objectives given the illustrated four metre drop to hard ground at low tide and the heavy HGV/mechanical trafficking of a warehouse circulation area.”