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Fresh fears historic war horse infirmary will be 'flattened' by 200 home estate

Campaigners - Pam Cox, Linda Green, John Burton, Sir Bob Russell, and Paul Knappett <i>(Image: Pam Cox)</i>
Campaigners - Pam Cox, Linda Green, John Burton, Sir Bob Russell, and Paul Knappett (Image: Pam Cox)

CAMPAIGNERS are continuing their fight to save a historic 19th century war horse hospital in Colchester.

The former horse infirmary is part of the disused Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO) site near Abbey Field in Colchester which is earmarked for a 203-home development.

A group of campaigners, including the High Steward of Colchester, Sir Bob Russell, are calling for the hospital and other nearby structures due to be redeveloped to be put on the government’s list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest.

The former MP said: “This decision is vital. If the building isn’t protected, it could be flattened, and that piece of history will be gone forever.”

Gazette: Fight - the campaigners have been working against the clock to save the site
Gazette: Fight - the campaigners have been working against the clock to save the site

Fight - the campaigners have been working against the clock to save the site (Image: Newsquest)

The group is being supported by Colchester councillor Pam Cox, who said: “We have an opportunity to preserve one of the oldest specialised horse hospitals in the country, a building that looked after generations of war horses.”

She has called for Colchester MP Will Quince to support their application to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

John Burton, president of Colchester Civic Society, added: “These historic buildings, which were hidden away while they were part of a military base, must be preserved for their historic and architectural value.

“As soon as we became aware of their existence we have lobbied for their preservation through national and local protection measures.

“The buildings with listed building status will be preserved and available for public inspection in the future.”

Gazette: Heritage - the former infirmary is styled much the same as the original Royal Artillery Barracks buildings
Gazette: Heritage - the former infirmary is styled much the same as the original Royal Artillery Barracks buildings

Heritage - the former infirmary is styled much the same as the original Royal Artillery Barracks buildings (Image: Michael Emmerson)

Other members of the group include Paul Knappett, who was once the manager of the ABRO site, and heritage campaigner Linda Green who lives next to the site.

The group has been encouraged by the recent discovery of original plans of the old buildings, dating from 1903. They include the wagon shed and gun park which were key parts of the old horse artillery barracks.

Mr Quince told the Gazette: “I have previously raised this issue with ministerial colleagues at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

“They advised that where the development involves works to historic buildings which might be of national importance, then local planning authorities have powers to serve a building preservation notice on the owner and occupier.”

He has committed to raising the matter with Colchester Council.