In 1989 and 1990, as part of the planning permission for building the Tesco store, agreements were entered into by the then owners (Thomas Bates & Son Ltd) and developers (Danbury Developments Ltd) and subsequently Tesco Stores Ltd with Essex County Council and Maldon District Council intended to protect the land between the proposed Tesco site and the bypass from development. At the time it was announced that the land was to be a local nature reserve, although the agreements did not go so far. Some minor works were done to put this objective into effect but the site was then neglected for 30 years.

Then, in early 2020, advertisements appeared offering the land for sale as the prospective site of two large industrial/retail units at a price of £1.5 million.

Following freedom of information requests, crowdfunding initiatives and other activities, a group of local residents eventually negotiated with Tesco for the land to be let to a not-for-profit community interest company on a 100 year lease at a peppercorn rent. The intention is to preserve it in a natural state as a wildlife site and enable public access consistent with this. Additionally, the strip of land nearest Tesco is available for a boating facility (small hand-propelled craft only) if a club or similar organisation is interested.

The site is unique for the area, being bordered to the South by the tidal River Chelmer and to the North by the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Canal, yet in close proximity to Maldon Town Centre, Heybridge and adjoining the network of local country paths. Simon Wood (author of Birds of Essex) and John Buchanan (Wildlife of Maldon), who are our specialist wildlife directors, advise that it is a very distinctive and bio-diverse habitat, which is scarce locally.


Much work needs to be done to bring the site back into conservation management. One of our first priorities was to reinstate walkways to make the site accessible to all (while discouraging people from accessing the more sensitive areas). We obtained generous grants from Essex County Council, Maldon District Council, Magnox Ltd, Essex & Suffolk Water and Middlewick Wind Farm (through the Essex Community Foundation) and assistance from Tesco and many generous private donors and shareholders to carry out the first phase of this work but significant support is still needed in cash and kind. To underline the fact that this is truly a community interest company, we are inviting as many people as possible to become £5.00 shareholders in it and already have in excess of 200 shareholders.

To find out how to donate, become a shareholder or volunteer please follow this link:

If you have any other questions, e-mail

Or find out more at The Chelmer and Blackwater Reserve Preservation Group | Notifications | Facebook