Message from Amanda Bettinson, Partnership Secretary, 21 November 2017

The AOEP has decided to pause their enabling development plans in order to take into consideration comments received at recent public consultation meetings and to give more time for other sources of funds to be pursued. While the SCDC planners indicated, at a recent meeting, their continuing support for the use of enabling development to part fund the Estuary Plan, they agreed to pause the ED programme and this was confirmed with The Estuary Trust on Friday.

The main general appeal for funds was launched last month, and applications to the HLF Landscape Partnership and to other foundations are under way. Taking account of that, the AOEP has decided not to make any planning applications on sites for at least twelve months, i.e. not before November 2018.  Meanwhile informal discussions may continue with planners and others.

By November 2018, following on from the whole estuary modelling, there will be a more refined phased and costed programme of flood defence work in the estuary. There will also be a clearer picture of the likelihood of success of other fundraising sources.  Funding is in place for all costs anticipated in 2018, so this pause will not impede the progress of delivery of the flood defences.  It will also provide time for further community discussion about the Estuary Plan, funding sources and the extent to which any enabling development is required.


Although there is a pause to the Enabling Development (ED) programme it is necessary to address some of the mistaken rumours that still persist.  The facts are:

  • Landowners do not ‘make money’ from donating land and cannot buy it back
  • In most cases donations to a charity, yours included, attract tax relief
  • This is calculated on the existing use value NOT the full planning value
  • Building is allowed in an AONB but has to be appropriate to the setting
  • Protecting our heritage walls and landscape is a legitimate aim for public benefit through ED
  • ED requires ‘exceptional’ planning permission and is very tightly controlled by SCDC. It is not a precursor to further planning creep
  • Land will be sold with covenants to prevent significant amendment to the planning permission
  • Historic England’s guidance on the ‘last resort’ is guidance not law
  • Several of the proposed plans offer homes of 2/4 bedrooms
  • AOET is pursuing additional sources of finance (HLF bid, charities, individuals etc), but these are unlikely to meet the total funding requirements of £12million


Site Selection

Phase 1 of the enabling development process started on site selection in June 2016 after the Estuary Plan was passed by all the statutory bodies. It is already agreed that we need many fewer plots than the 80-100 originally estimated in the Alde-Ore Estuary plan. There are currently 9 possible sites with a total of 15-17 houses being formally considered in the parishes of Iken, Sudbourne, Orford, Chillesford and Tunstall. Provided outline planning is agreed by SCDC, plots will be transferred to the Estuary Trust and sold with outline planning permission. The Estuary Trust will not be involved in building houses.

The potential sites are:-

1: Orford Three 1 acre sites each with a single house at Newton Broadway, Rayden Lane and Mill Broadway

2: Chillesford Single site, with 2 pairs of small semi detached houses
(4 x 3 bed houses in total) opposite The Froize Inn

3: Sudbourne Single site in the village with two (or three) houses on south side of  School Lane
1 acre site with one house on corner of Ferry Road and High House Farm Road

4: Tunstall Single site on edge of village in School Road – House numbers still to be agreed

5: Iken Single 3 acre site with one house north of the left hand bend by  the High Street (discussions continuing on other sites)

We have taken immense care to appoint architects with a track record of good low energy design and careful and sensitive consultation; Wincer Keivenaar have a long standing reputation for bespoke projects of a practical nature, but with high quality design, while Charles Curry-Hyde specialises in sensitive sites, many of which are in Conservation Zones.



Please click here for our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and their answers (last updated 11th October 2017).


We are fortunate to live in an area that is enjoyed and loved by those who live here and by numerous visitors throughout the year, sustaining a strong local economy and high property values. Our generation now needs to play its role in that long unbroken chain of stewardship, ensuring that the landscape we love in this area is preserved, the sailing can continue, the 60 km of footpaths round the walls can still be walked, and the area will remain as popular for residents and visitors as it is now.

A key part of our programme is upgrading the estuary walls so that they will be able to withstand overtopping in a 1:200 year surge for three hours … a severe and rare event. It is estimated that we need a total of £12million to achieve this.
There are three broad strands to our fundraising: Public funds such as Environment Agency grants; donations from all other sources, charitable, public and private and £5m from farmers and other landowners. This £5m will be raised by applications for small residential developments on donated land. This would be ‘Enabling Development’ so that any uplift in value is used only by the Estuary Trust to fund the upgrading of the flood defences.
The District Council has agreed to consider development proposals submitted on this basis subject to compliance with strict criteria that can be seen by clicking here.

Public Engagement

There will be a number of opportunities for everyone to make comments, both before and after the submission of any formal application. The initial sketch plans have already been presented to Parish Councils and/or public meetings for open consultation.
So far we have met with Iken, Sudbourne, Orford, Tunstall and Chillesford Parish Councils. Issues raised have included the landscape, access, services, the impact on neighbours and the housing balance required by the local community. We have already amended several of our initial proposals in response and we have started a list of “frequently asked questions” which we will add to as comments are submitted. All sites will be marketed in the normal way by agents and when formal plans are drawn up they can be available on the website for everyone to see.

A Public Forum was held on 10th November 2017 in Tunstall Village Hall chaired by Lord Deben. 

A summary of main concerns raised with the Partnership's response can be found here

Next Steps and contact details

Formal submission of the first application is likely to be about November/December. The relevant Parish Councils are all aware of these sites so you can contact them instead if you prefer. We plan to issue regular updates every few months and comments can always be sent in via email to Our website is and you can follow us on Twitter: @SOSestuary

In October The Estuary Trust will be launching an appeal for funds to raise £5million over the next few years from all other sources than public funds and the farming community. They will be ‘telling the story’ of our estuary and how its flood defences came into being over the past 800 years. Over that period every generation has maintained and improved the clay walls, and rebuilt them when the elements have destroyed them. Comments, suggestions and offers of help for fund raising in cash or in kind, at any time can be sent to The Estuary Trust (

Email us at or view our contact page. Follow us on Twitter: @SOSestuary