Birch Village SignHome Page

The village of Birch lies about four and a half miles south west of Colchester in the county of Essex. The civil parish of Birch comes within the administrative area of the Borough of Colchester.

On this site you will find information about Birch Parish Council, its Councillors, meetings, the Parish boundary (with maps) and Policies & Procedures.

As a service to the local community, you will find here also information about local organisations, activities and amenities for which the Parish Council is not responsible and for which it cannot, therefore, accept any liability.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates


Residents urged to heed advice and stay at home as weather set to improve

With the weather expected to turn increasingly Spring-like over the weekend, residents are being reminded to follow advice to stay at home, protect lives and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

As temperatures warm up over the coming days, and with Easter fast-approaching, people are asked to continue observing rules around social distancing when venturing outdoors and visiting public spaces.

This always means only going out once a day for some fresh air and exercise, or for essentials such as shopping or medicines, and adhering to Government advice to stay local, use open spaces near to home where possible and not to congregate.

Although the council has now closed all its playgrounds, outdoor gyms and car parks serving its parks and countryside sites, the parks themselves remain open. When visiting parks, residents should abide by the Government’s social distancing guidelines and remain at least two metres apart from others. Gatherings of more than two people will be asked to disperse.


Every person in the UK must comply with the following Stay at Home measures which came into effect on Monday 23 March:

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:


The Parish Council is very conscious of the difficulties self-isolation may create for the elderly and those with medical conditions.

Parish Councillors wish to support elderly and vulnerable local residents who are self-isolating and need assistance with things like grocery shopping or getting medication. If you need such assistance, or become aware on anyone who needs such help, please contact the Chair of the Council, Elaine Bowtle, on 01206-330388 in the first instance.


With effect from Wednesday, 25th March, Colchester Borough Council temporarily suspended all its recycling collections (except food waste) because of coronavirus - see 25th March update below.

The government’s guidelines and Stay at Home advice means households have more rubbish to dispose of and to help with this the Borough Council is increasing the amount of rubbish that every household can put out for collection every fortnight by one 60 litre bag. This means the new temporary limit for household rubbish collections is as follows until further notice:

Households with black bag collections can now put a maximum of 4 x 60 litre black bags out for collection

Rubbish collections remain bi-weekly, food waste collections weekly.

RECYCLING COLLECTIONS SUSPENDED   (update posted 25-03-20)

With effect from Wednesday, 25th March, Colchester Borough Council has stopped all recycling collections, other than food waste, until further notice.

The Council has taken this decision so it can focus its resources on the critical elements of the service: food waste, black bags and black wheelie bin collections in order to maintain public health and safety. The decision has also been made with the safety and welfare of its staff in mind taking into account government guidance issued on social distancing.

Households will be unable to report missed recycling collections while this service is suspended and will only be able to report missed food waste or black bag/bin collections, if necessary.

The Shrub End Recycling Centre has been closed until further notice.

The Council’s fly-tipping service and assisted collections are operating as normal and litter bins and dog waste bins will also continue to be emptied.

BIRCH PLAY AREA   (update posted 24-03-20)

To reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), local authorities have instructed that all public playgrounds must be closed. The Birch Play Area is now closed and the play equipment must not be used. It is particularly regrettable that this has become necessary when schools are closed and the warmer weather is coming. Please understand that this is not an advisory matter. It is essential and in everybody's interests that these instructions and restriction are observed.


In line with government advice about public gatherings and 'social distancing', the following village events have been cancelled:-

Next Parish Council Meeting - Tuesday, 7th April 2020 CANCELLED due to coronavirus

The meeting of Birch Parish Council planned for Tuesday, 7th April, has been cancelled.

Maldon Road/Warren Lane Road Junction

During the first week of March work was completed on the Maldon Road/Warren Lane road junction. Cllr Kevin Bentley wishes to let people know why it was carried out and what improvements have been made.

The work was jointly funded by the Local Highways Panel and the Safer Roads Foundation for resurfacing as part of the Casualty Reduction programme. Cllr Bentley has campaigned for a long time for this junction to be improved with a roundabout. He is pleased to say that this is now being designed, although the costs will be very high given the complexities of the area.

The area has been cleared and the roads have been resurfaced which will assist with skid resistance of the junction between now and the installation of a major project. New signs have been installed and the vegetation has been cut back, all helping safety and visibility at this junction. The work was done overnight to ensure the least amount of disruption.

Parish Council Meeting held on 3rd March 2020

A Report summarising matters discussed at the meeting held on 3rd March is available on the Meetings page of this website.

Birch Church – Planning Application for Conversion to Residential Use

UPDATE (as at 31st January 2020): On 14th January the Chair of the Parish Council was notified by the Borough Council of an Amendment to Mr Cottee's Planning Applications and that comments had to be received within 14 days of that date. A detailed response was submitted to Planning Services by the Parish Council's Clerk on 27th January. The Church Commissioners also lodged a response on 27th January. This revealed, among other things, that a long time ago the Borough Council requested 'archaeological investigations' to support Mr Cottee's applications. About 12 months ago Mr Cottee was advised by the Commissioners that he would need 'faculty' permission for this work. Only now has Mr Cottee submitted a faculty application to the diocese and so it will be several more weeks before the results of this investigation work will be available to the Borough Council. That being the case, one can only conclude that it will be months, rather than weeks, before the applications come before the Planning Committee for determination.

On 29th July 2018 Colchester Borough Council received and registered planning and listed building consent applications from Mr Cottee for the conversion of Birch church to a five-bedroom residence. The proposed development is described on Colchester Borough Council's website as: "Demolition of majority of south aisle (retaining western gable wall). Renovation of retained building envelope, Conversion to single dwelling, including new reinforced concrete raft foundation, partial mezzanine and new floors to tower."

Birch Parish Council was not sent any notification of the applications until the evening of Monday 3rd September 2018. The closing date for submitting comments and objections to Colchester Borough Council was 24th September. Details of the applications (Numbers 181908 and 181909), and of the various objections that have been submitted, can be viewed on the Borough Council's website using the following links: Application No 181908 and Application No 181909.

Birch Parish Council lodged formal objections to the applications. Objections were also submitted by local residents and other individuals with relatives buried in the churchyard, by the Parochial Church Council, by the Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Finance (in which ownership of the church building is currently vested) and the Team Rector of the Benefice (who by virtue of her office is the legal owner of the churchyard).

Councillor Kevin Bentley, one of our Borough Councillors, has formally requested that Mr Cottee's planning applications be 'called in'. This means that instead of decisions about the applications being made by an officer of the Planning Department, the applications will be discussed, debated and determined at a meeting of the Borough Council's Planning Committee. Planning Committee meetings are open to the public but it is not known when the Birch church applications are likely to come before the committee. It will depend on the work that needs to be done on the applications before they are considered by the Committee. There are a number of complexities in this case and a number of objections, that need to be considered.

Proposed Development at Rear of The Hare & Hounds

On 5th November last there was a public exhibition at the Hare & Hounds public house of proposals to erect four holiday apartments in the paddock at the rear of the Hare & Hounds. There was some discussion about the proposals at the Parish Council meeting held on 5th November.

One of the Sphere 25 representatives attending the Parish Council meeting on 5th November said there had been pre-application discussions with Colchester Borough Council's Planning Department but that it was not intended to submit a formal planning application before the spring (2020).

Councillor Kevin Bentley, our County Councillor and one of our Borough Councillors, asks that residents also email him - - with any concerns they have about the proposals.

Clear Recycling Sacks - Additional Supplies

On the first Tuesday of each month one of our Zone Wardens will be outside Birch Memorial Hall, from 9-00am for about an hour, to issue clear recycling sacks to those who need them. These sacks are supplied by Colchester Borough Council, free of charge, for the purposes of its regular kerbside recycling collections. The Council is keen to encourage the highest possible level of recycling both for the protection of the environment and to reduce the costs of landfill refuse disposal.

Household Items Drop-Off Service

If you need to throw away household items that aren't collected as part of the regular refuse and recycling collections, they can be disposed of using Colchester Borough Council's 'Household Items Drop-Off Service'. Items are collected from different locations in the Borough on specific Saturdays. Previously known as the Saturday Freighter Service, a refuse vehicle usually visits each location three times a year.

Visits to Birch and Layer Breton during 2020 are scheduled for the Saturdays 16th May, 11th July and 5th September, at the following venues and times:
  - Luard Way, Birch: 9:30am to 10:45am.
  - St Mary's Church car park, Layer Breton: 11:00am to 12 noon.

You can take non-recyclable items and garden waste to the refuse vehicle when it visits. Green garden waste should be brought separately so that it can be composted. The following items are NOT ACCEPTED: fridges, freezers and other electrical goods, hazardous waste such as asbestos, batteries, liquids or gas bottles, and commercial refuse.

Details of Drop-Off Service visits to Birch and Layer Breton are available on the Borough Council's website at

Defibrillators in Birch and Layer Breton

DefibrillatorThe Three Villages Community Association (TVCA) has installed two public access defibrillators, one in Birch and one in Layer Breton.

Defibrillators improve chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. More and more are being placed in community locations to be used before arrival of a paramedic or ambulance. Less than 5% of people survive cardiac arrest with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) alone but the odds are greatly improved, up to 50%, with the prompt use of a defibrillator and effective CPR.

The latest Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are now built specifically for any person to use, not necessarily someone who has had training. Our local defibrillators, which are portable, are located at:
 • Birch Memorial Hall, Birch Street. Birch, CO2 0LZ
    (located by the main entrance to the hall)
 • The Hare and Hounds Public House, Layer Breton, CO2 0PN
    (located in the garden; access through door to the left of the building)

The TVCA has already run some training sessions in the Memorial Hall so that village clubs and individuals can practice CPR and familiarise themselves with the AEDs. However you can use a defibrillator without having received training. The equipment provides step by step verbal instructions on what you need to do and will "talk you through" the procedure.

The TVCA is happy to provide further training sessions should any clubs or individuals wish to see the training video and learn how to do CPR.

Call 105Power Cuts - Reporting, and Getting Information About Them

Many Birch residents rely on overhead power lines for their electricity supply. From time to time extreme weather conditions and other incidents lead to power cuts in our locality.

There is now a new three-digit telephone number, 105, which can be used to report or get information about power cuts. You can also call 105 to report damage to electricity power lines and substations. The 105 number is free of charge and will put you through to UK Power Networks, the electricity network operator for London, the East and South East of England. 105 can be called from most landlines and mobile phones.

Alternatively you can report or get information about power cuts by calling UK Power Networks on their freephone number 0800-316-3105.

It is important to be aware that cordless 'phones do not work when there is no mains power. During a power cut you will need to use a corded landline or mobile 'phone to call 105 or 0800-316-3105.

Birch Parish Council Information

On this site you will find information about:
 – The Responsibilities and Work of Birch Parish Council
 – Parish Councillors and the Parish Clerk
 – Dates of Birch Parish Council Meetings
 – Reports of Meetings issued by the Council after each meeting
 – Minutes and Agendas of Council meetings
 – Year End Report for the year ending 31st March 2019.
 – Boundary and Maps of Birch Civil Parish
 – The Council's Policies and Procedures

Annual Return for the Year 2018-19

The Parish Council's Annual Governance and Accountability Return for 2018-19 is available for viewing or download in PDF format by using this link Annual Return 2018/19. The document includes:
 – Annual Internal Audit Report 2018-19
 – Annual Governance Statement 2018-19
 – Accounting Statements 2018-19

Other Local Information

The site also carries information about:
 – The Village Hall
 – Borough Councillors for the Marks Tey and Layer Ward
 – Colchester Borough Council Zone Wardens for Birch
 – Policing and Crime Prevention
 – The Three Villages Community Association (TVCA)
 – Websites with local content.

Please contact the webmaster or Parish Clerk if you think there is other information which could usefully be added to the site.

Monthly Newsletter: 'Parish News'

This monthly magazine goes to every home and is produced independently of Birch Parish Council. It provides useful information on the many local community social events and carries Council notices, press releases and other information. In addition to a range of articles including our countryside, food and local history, Parish News carries a range of over 40 local commercial advertisements.

Bus Service between Birch and Colchester

Service 92 is operated by Hedingham Buses with the financial support of Essex County Council.

With effect from 3rd April 2018, bus times to and from Colchester High Street are as shown in the abridged table below.

It is recommended that before travelling you check whether there have been any timetable changes by visiting the Hedingham Buses website at


Monday to Friday, except public holidays
Birch Street, Mill Lane 08:0009:2710:5212:5213:5215:5217:02
Colchester, High Street 08:2009:4711:1213:1214:1216:1217:22
Birch Street, Mill Lane   10:2512:25 15:25 
Colchester, High Street   10:4412:44 15:44 


Monday to Friday, except public holidays
Colchester, High Street [GC] 08:2009:4711:1213:1214:1216:1217:22
Birch Street, opp Mill Lane 08:5010:1211:4213:4214:4216:4217:55
Colchester, Osborne Street [AA]  09:3011:30  16:15 
Colchester, Crouch Street [DA]  09:3311:33  16:18 
Birch Street, opp Mill Lane  09:4811:48  16:33 

Disclaimer of Legal Liability

Information on this website is given in good faith, but Birch Parish Council does not accept any liability for the accuracy or reliability of such information. References on this website to other organisations, individuals or businesses do not imply any endorsement, approval or recommendation of them by the Parish Council.

This site has links to external websites. Birch Parish Council has no control over third party websites or services and is not responsible for their content. The existence of a link here to an external website does not imply endorsement or approval by the Council which accepts no liability for loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of external websites.