Article by Emma Robinson: Worried residents have called on councillors to throw out plans to build a road though ancient woodland, which would lead to 300 homes.
The relief road will run over the north west part of Frith Wood in Billericay to access a proposed new estate.
Locals insist any loss of woodland will bad news for deer - and rare plants.
Terry Knight, of Second Avenue, whose garden will adjoin the proposed road, said:
“I think it’s scandalous the way planners are doing this to Billericay. We do not want a road running through our ancient woodland. So many people walk, ride horses, and cycle through here. All that will be destroyed. No one is in favour of this and it will be devastating for our wildlife and fauna.”
Councillors unanimously voted the road through at a meeting on December 7 as part of a Draft Local Plan to build 20,000 homes in the borough by 2034.
Although council officers had originally suggested an alternative road avoiding the woodland, developer Taylor Wimpey called for a change. Minutes from the December meeting show the move will mean the developer can build an extra 300 homes in the area.
The plans for the road will come before the council’s Infrastructure, Growth and Development Committee on March 13 with the possibility for the wood to be saved.
Individual residents said Taylor Wimpey staff met with them last week to discuss their concerns. Mr Knight added:
“They said they would consider our objections. But councillors should not have agreed to this in the first place. They’ve made a terrible mistake.”
Other neighbours said they were furious with the proposal. Gary Bennet, also of Second Avenue, said:
“This is somewhere for the community. We do not want to lose it.”
Minutes showed councillors from all parties voted in favour the road, including conservatives Andrew Baggott, Andy Barnes, Chris Jackman and Carole Morris, UKIP’s Linda Allport-Hodge, Gary Canham and Derrick Fellowes, and Labour’s Gavin Callaghan and Melissa McGeorge.
Other councillors have expressed dismay.
“I’m outraged,” said conservative councillor Richard Moore, of Burstead. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”
Article by Emma Robinson, The Echo