People power forces a debate on homes

Thurrock Gazette: Campaigners George Elder, three and Ann Sandu with other protesters Campaigners George Elder, three and Ann Sandu with other protesters

A CAMPAIGN group has made history by gathering a 1,500-strong petition and forcing the council to debate plans for a massive housing development.

Now the group hopes it has done enough to derail the 800-home proposal for green belt land in Lampits Hill, off of Southend Road, Corringham.

The petition was brought before the latest Thurrock full council meeting.

It was the very first time any group of campaigners had managed to get together at least 1,500 genuine names of support - triggering the debate.

And the majority of councillors backed residents, some of whom were packed in the public gallery.

Council leader John Kent said he could see why the site was attractive to developers, but added: “I fail to see what the special circumstances there are for this planning application.

“This is a development that should not be allowed and should not go ahead.”

James Halden, Tory councillor for the Homesteads, called himself an “unabashed supporter of the greenbelt”.

He said: “Myself and Stephen Metcalfe MP have met with concerned community groups and we have been clear – we do not support building in this greenbelt opposite Gable Hall School, certainly not when we want to build a generation of new homes on brownfield land that needs regeneration.

“That is our policy and we will stick to it.”

Christine Everett said on the Save Corringham Greenbelt campaign’s Facebook page: “I have lived here for nearly 40 years and have seen many changes in that time. I really don't think that this area will cope with 800 more houses.”

This was the second set of proposals developers Iceni Projects and Cogent Land LLP have lodged with the council to build homes on the site, north east of Corringham, within the last six years.

The same campaign group successfully defeated a previous application - and they hope to do the same again.

Anne Sandu, a resident in Lampits Lane and spokeswoman for the group, said: “We’ve had a lot of support and are thrilled with being the first petition to be debated in council.

“We’re so glad that local people have got this kind of voice to be able to do something like this at full council. We worked very hard to get here.

“Out of Everybody we speak to, nobody wants it. Nobody is against housing, just not on the greenbelt.

“We hope that the voice of residents will be heard because they are speaking up and they expect to be listened to.”

The petition will now be referred to the planning committee to be considered in a future decision over the planning application.

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