The area around Great Chesterford is historically and archeologically important. Artefacts have been found dating back to pre-historic, Iron Age, Roman and Anglo Saxon times. The natural rolling landscape has been sculpted by nature and settlers across the centuries built villages and towns in the valleys and farmed up on the hillsides.

Great Chesterford was a significant town in Roman times with six roads leading to a bustling market place with masonry and timber framed housing surrounding the central core of the town. Archaeologists have found an important Roman Fort and remains of a Roman Temple and ancient burial grounds (Roman and Anglo Saxon) on the outskirts of the town suggesting the area was an important site for religious activity with the hill tops prominent sites for high-status burials. These important sites are Scheduled Monuments.

Putting a 5,000-house new town across the chalk hills north east of Great Chesterford raises serious concern of damage to these archaeological artefacts – not only those already uncovered but the  many more that almost certainly lay undiscovered. Construction work would either destroy them or they would be lost under concrete. Two reports commissioned by UDC support this concern. The 2018 report by Place Services says:

“…….it is presumed that further, as yet unidentified, assets are present within the proposed Garden Community area. The proposed Garden Community will impact the setting and significance of both the Conservation Area of Great Chesterford and the Scheduled Roman walled town, Fort, and Saxon cemetery, through the development of the site”

And the Heritage Impact Assessments by Donald Insall (2018) – also commissioned by UDC – states:

“The impact of proposed development on the site will cause harm to the overall significance of heritage assets and non-designated heritage assets on the site and to the wider character of the area.”

In addition to archaeological impact, should the development go ahead there are concerns regarding the landscape and the natural pattern of development in the region which will be disrupted with housing constructed in a prominent unnatural position on the hillside across ancient agricultural field systems. The report by Place Services continues:

“The proposed Garden Community at Great Chesterford lies within a highly sensitive landscape containing numerous heritage assets……..there are heritage assets within the development boundary which cannot accommodate development sensitively whilst retaining the rural character of their surroundings.”

And Donald Insall again:

“…….the scale of the proposed garden community will be greater than surrounding historic settlements. The proposed location of the development is a change to the historic pattern of development which is concentrated in the river valley……. and is contrary to the historic development of the built environment in the area.”

Flood damage in another factor of great concern and risks damage to the historic landscape and assets. The proposed development will drain westwards towards and through Great Chesterford. Any enlargement of the water course risks seriously damaging the temple site and the Roman town.

It is for these (and many more reasons) that we urge you to respond to UDC and oppose the proposed Local Plan. Click here for guidance on making your response.

 

First series Ordinance Survey map of Great Chesterford 1805

What the Roman Settlement at Great Chesterford may have looked like by Peter Froste.