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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Parish Council Meeting held on 2nd October 2018

A Press Release summarising matters discussed at the meeting held on 2nd October is available on the Meetings page of this website.

Next Parish Council Meeting - Tuesday, 6th November 2018

The next meeting of Birch Parish Council will be held on Tuesday, 6th November at 7-30pm, in Birch Memorial Hall.

Remembrance Sunday at Birch - 11th November 2018

Two of the events being held at Birch on Remembrance Sunday, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, are the following:

10-45 am Remembrance Service at Birch War Memorial Cross (opposite Birch School)
This year the Memorial Hall will NOT be open for refreshments before the service because of the exhibition being staged there in the afternoon.

2-00 pm to 6-00 pm Exhibition and Display in Birch Memorial Hall

An exhibition and display, arranged by the Parish Council, Birch Primary School and the Three Villages Community Association, covering the past 100 years.

Journey with us from the end of World War One through the decades to the present time, including The Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties.

All are welcome. Refreshments will be provided.

Birch Church – Planning Application for Conversion to Residential Use

On 29th July 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. 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 has lodged formal objections to the applications. Objections have also been 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).

Birch Church – Public Inquiry Will Not Proceed

A Pre-Inquiry Meeting, chaired by the Inspector appointed to conduct the Inquiry, was held on Wednesday 21 February 2018. The Chair and other members of the Parish Council attended, together with Councillor Kevin Bentley.

On 7th March the Inspector issued an 'Inquiry Programme incorporating agreed dates' stating that the public inquiry would open on 9th October. From this it appeared that the start date for the inquiry was agreed and settled.

On 12th June 2018 the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government wrote to interested parties, as follows:

Proposed Demolition of the Closed Church of Birch St Peter in the Diocese of Chelmsford
Referral under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 and the Skelmersdale Agreement of 1986

I write to inform you that the referral of the draft scheme for the proposed demolition of the closed Church of Birch St Peter, to the Secretary of State, has been withdrawn by the Church Commissioners for England. I therefore confirm that as a consequence, the non-statutory public inquiry will not proceed.

I confirm that the Secretary of State’s interest in the matter has now concluded and the case will be closed. The Planning Inspectorate has been informed.

This gives us official confirmation that the public inquiry, planned to open on 9th October, will not proceed. There is a note of finality in the statement that "the Secretary of State's interest in the matter has now concluded and the case will be closed." Nearly 28 years after the building was formally closed for worship we appear to be nowhere nearer a resolution of its future.

In a letter published in the 13th July issue of the Essex County Standard, the Church Commissioners give their reason for withdrawing their reference to the Secretary of State. They say the reason they "have pressed the pause button on the public inquiry … is solely because the promoter of the alternative proposal for a residential dwelling has not produced any detailed information." They go on to say: "It became impossible for the Commissioners to prepare any evidence for the inquiry in the absence of detailed specifications and, faced with the mounting inquiry costs, were left with no alternative but to withdraw the demolition proposal for the time being. If the developer uses this pause to obtain planning and listed building consent and prepares detailed specifications for the work, the Church Commissioners will at that point consider their position."

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.

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
 – Press Releases issued by the Council after meetings
 – Minutes and Agendas of Council meetings
 – Year End Report for the year ending 31st March 2017.
 – Boundary and Maps of Birch Civil Parish
 – The Council's Policies and Procedures

Birch Parish Council Annual Accounts and Returns

The Council's Accounts for the Year Ended 31st March 2017 are available for viewing or download in PDF format by using this link Annual Accounts - Year Ended 31/3/17.

The Council's Annual return for the year ended 31 March 2017 is available for viewing or download in PDF format by using this link Annual return 2016/17. The return contains four sections:
Section 1 - Annual governance statement 2016/17
Section 2 - Accounting statements 2016/17
Section 3 - External auditor report and certificate
Annual internal audit report 2016/17

The Council's Accounts for the Year Ended 31st March 2016 are available for viewing or download in PDF format by using this link Annual Accounts 2015/16   Also available for viewing or download in PDF format are the Annual Accounts 2015/16 - Bank Reconciliation Details

The Council's Annual return for the year ended 31 March 2016 is available for viewing or download in PDF format by using this link Annual return 2015/16. The return contains four sections:
Section 1 - Annual governance statement 2015/16
Section 2 - Accounting statements 2015/16
Section 3 - External auditor certificate and report 2015/16 Certificate
Annual internal audit report 2015/16

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.