NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN COUNTRYSIDE
The parish of Hadleigh covers some 4,300 acres (1902ha) according to Kelly’s directory in 1937.
Once known as Hadleigh in the Hole, the town lies in the valley of the River Brett, a tributary of the Stour. The river flows from north to south through the town. Marshy land on the western bank which then rises rapidly up to an ancient track has meant that the town has developed almost entirely on the eastern side. Until the 1960’s most development was confined to relatively level ground on the eastern bank but continued expansion means that the town has now spread out on to the high land above the medieval town. Further expansion could bring problems in periods of torrential rain with possible flooding from surface water in the High Street and Benton Street.
A number of springs rise on the high ground between Lady Lane and Frog Hall. These have been channelled underground but there is still one small brook which crosses Benton Street into the Brett which has been known to flood.
The countryside around Hadleigh is a typical Suffolk landscape with gently undulating, intensively cultivated farm land and some wooded areas. The main crops are cereals and oilseed rape although a few beef cattle, sheep and horses graze on the edge of the town. A few farms and some small groups of dwellings are scattered throughout the parish. There is a small industrial area in the south-east and a gravel pit and animal feeding factory to the north.
There is no common ground but the present owners of the land on the western side of the river permit access for walkers and this is much used by dog owners. There are four nature conservation areas in the parish which give access to the public. Wolves wood, whichis the largest wooded area in the parish, is owned and managed by the RSPB and nightingales can be heard here in the summer.
The other three are managed by the District Council.
The Riverside Walk This is on the western bank of the river and is probably the most important conservation area due to its biodiversity. A recent ecological survey carried out for a proposed development on the eastern side of the river has shown that it provides a vital corridor for a number of protected and endangered species. It provides a habitat for otters, bats and water voles. The proposed development site has grass snakes, slow worms and badgers.
The Railway Walk. A two mile bridle path along the disused railway from Hadleigh to Raydon. This is mainly wooded with occasional glimpses across the valley and there is also a piece of open land known as the Fuzz. This walk also forms part of the National Cycle Route.
Broom Hill On the high ground on the western side of the town is separated from the river by a disused brick works. This is a mainly wooded area with open sandy areas and scrubland.
A keen local naturalist and photographer has compiled a lists of the flora and fauna which is to be found in and around these three sites. He lists the following numbers of species he has seen over recent years.
Birds (including migrants) 79
Mammals ranging in size from Roe deer to Wood Mice 21
Reptiles ad amphibians 6
Flora (trees, flowering plants, grasses and lichens 220
He has recorded 6 of the most common fish
Some time in the distant past the river has been widened as it passes through the town. It once provided the power for water mills roughly every mile throughout the parish. The last working mill burnt down in l954 and the river at this point is now diverted through a sluice and over a weir into a large mill pond. Below this the river is reduced to approximately a third in width. In periods of heavy rain it bursts its banks but as no dwellings are built on the flood plain any damage is confined to crops and sheds on the Town Council’s Allotment site. The latest flood was in June 2016.
There are a number of footpaths in the parish. Six of these are circular walks, three are within the parish and three go to neighbouring parishes. Although the County Council is responsible for these the maintenance and repairs are carried out by a group of volunteers with the support of the Town Council.
There are no major roads in the parish. The busiest road is the A1071 which goes from the A134 to Ipswich. The B1070 which connects Hadleigh with the A12 has a weight limit and heavy lorries are prohibited.
1. At present an AONB extends along the Stour Valley and part of the Brett Valley to Raydon. The area from there along the Brett to Hadleigh is equally as attractive and should be included in the AONB. The Dedham Vale Project is at present extending its work to include the Brett Valley.
2.The skyline between Hadleigh and Layham is marred by a row of pylons which can be seen from a considerable distance. The National Grid had plans to replace these with two lines of pylons but this decision has been deferred until a new power station has been built. At present an AONB extends from the Dedham Vale to Raydon there is no reason why this should be extended through Layham to Hadleigh.
3. There should be closer co-operation between Babergh and Suffolk Wildlife Trust to manage the nature conservation areas to ensure that they provide the best possible habitat.
4. The only routes to Layham are either along the busy main road with a footpath which is poorly maintained and the minor road which has no footpath at all. Would it be possible to explore the possibility of a footpath along the river?