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750 homes will destroy Pitsea village, campaigners fear
Updated 7:05pm Tuesday 4th March 2014 in News
A DECISION is likely within threemonths on plans to build hundreds of homes on green belt land at Bowers Gifford.
Residents campaigning against Meridian Strategic Land’s plans for 750 houses off Pound Lane, Bowers Gifford, were told that was how long they’d have to wait for a Government inspector to rule on the plans, as a public inquiry ended last week.
Basildon Council refused the application in September, Meridian appealed and the inquiry was hearing the case for andagainst the development.
MP Stephen Metcalfe spoke at the inquiry and voiced fears Bowers Gifford would become a town in its own right if the plans went ahead.
The South Basildon and East Thurrock MP said he had been lobbied on the issue by an unprecedented number of constituents.
He added: “Bowers Gifford has about 600 homes at themoment and about 1,500 residents.
Bringing another 750 homes would more than double the size of the area.
“It would turn a village into a small town.”
Basildon Council refused the plans, complying with the wishes of 5,000 residents who signed a petition.
More than 100 people attended the meeting at which the decisionwas made.
The council has said some green belt land will have to be sacrificed, but its draft Local Plan, excludes the site from areas earmarked for housing, arguing it should be preserved.
Building a new estate would blur the boundaries between Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet, the plan says.
Since the appeal hearing, the developer has offered to build a medical centre and primary school community centre and donate green space the size of about ten football pitches to the public.
RoseGriffin, of Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet Residents’ Association, told the inspector: “The appellant has told us time and time again it knows much better than we do what we really want. Well, what we want is to keep our green belt.”
Residents are hoping the inspector will uphold the council’s refusal and help it block future proposals for sites in the green belt in the east of the borough.
BernardFoster, vice-chairman of Bowers Gifford Parish Council, said: “Instead of this plan of destruction, we want to work with Basildon Council to obtain a solution.”
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