CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after plans to build 350 homes on green belt land in Chadwell St Mary were turned down.

Members of the Stop Heath Place Development group whooped with joy after the decision was made by council planners – and members shouted “thank you” to councillors from the public gallery.

The group has been fighting the application to build the homes on land north of Godman Road for almost a year. And before the meeting, the group staged a peaceful protest outside the council offices in Grays.

About 80 campaigners chanted “no building on the green belt”

and waved banners before heading inside. In December, the group handed in a petition against the development, with 1,500 names of support, to Thurrock Council.

Angela Ruff, 70, campaigner and a resident of Heath Road for 40 years, was delighted with the decision.

She said: “I’m extremely happy, it’s been a long year.

“We have to fight to keep for our green belt because once it’s lost it’s lost forever. We have to protect it for future generations. We’ve had great support from our residents.

“This has brought the people together and the community is now getting stronger and stronger.”

Fellow campaigner Donna Pegrum, of Greyhound Lane, said: “Its communities working together that have achieved this.

“On this occasion Thurrock Council has really listened to residents’ concerns and we have to thank them for showing that people power can win the day.”

Resident and councillor Barbara Rice said: “This shows that councillors and campaigners can work together. We worked closely with the community and this has shown what can be achieved with the working together model. Together we are stronger.”

This follows on from the success of residents in Corringham, who were successful last month in stopping 800 homes being built on green belt land in their town.

The council has plans to build 18,500 new homes in the borough by 2026 as part of its core strategy, a document that sets out a blueprint for the future development of Thurrock.