PROPOSALS to allow pedestrians to access a much-missed area of land in Tiptree have been discussed by the parish council.

The owner of the Tiptree Birch Wood site contacted the parish council to discuss the controversy surrounding the site.

The former Wilkin and Sons-owned 13.1-acre woodland and reservoir in Tiptree was sold by auction in October 2022 for £168,000.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Concern: barbed wire around the siteConcern: barbed wire around the site (Image: Public)

For decades, members of the public have been able to use the woods freely, but the new owner has fenced off the land, making it inaccessible to the public.

The move caused a stir among villagers, who launched the Save Tiptree/Birch Woods Facebook group.

There have been reports of parts of the new fencing being damaged to gain access to the site.

Gaps in the fencing have been filled with barbed wire, which has raised safety concerns from the public, who fear it could cause injuries.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Access: fencing around the siteAccess: fencing around the site (Image: Brian Joslin)

At the latest Tiptree Parish Council full council meeting, councillors confirmed the barbed wire has been reported to Essex Highways.

In an attempt to work with the public, the landowner suggested a land swap to allow some pedestrian access to the site.

The parish council discussed the offer but decided to decline the proposition.

A spokesman for Tiptree Parish Council said: “A land swap had been proposed by the Birch Wood owner, to enable pedestrian access across the northern portion of Birch Wood.

“In return, they were seeking what will become the allotment land as an exchange.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Land: proposed allotment landLand: proposed allotment land (Image: Google)

“The clerk explained that this would not be in the parish’s gift to enable, and would create significant additional concerns to allotment holders, whilst providing a huge advantage to the ownership of Birch Wood.

“It was recommended that the council decline the offer and not engage further. After extensive discussion, it was resolved by a majority that the council decline the offer, offering nothing further.

“Wilkins would be asked of their thoughts/capabilities in buying the land back.

“The clerk then addressed the points raised by members of the public in the earlier public questions.

“It was noted to the public that the access to Birch Wood via footpath 25 is not in the ownership of the parish council, likewise for the entirety of footpath 25 itself.

“Issues surrounding access and impediments to access are in the ownership of Essex County Council.”