A PLANNING inspector may be asked to rule on a bid to build 100 new homes on Mersea Island.

Developers City & Country applied to Colchester Council to build the homes on land at Brierley Paddocks.

The plans have drawn almost unprecedented criticism from residents, with a total of 389 objections being submitted including from West Mersea Town Council.

Last year, councillors voted to defer the decision for six months while an inspector hears more evidence on the local plan.

But City & Country has now notified the council it intends to appeal against the non-determination of the plans.

As a consequence the council’s planning committee is being asked to rule on the bid.

If they refuse it, a planning inspector will be appointed to decide on the plans and the council will have to defend the decision at appeal later this year.

Planning officers say they stand by their recommendation from December and say the plans should be approved.

A report set to go before the committee said: “No material harm is identified of sufficient magnitude to outweigh the public benefits identified, in order to justify and sustain refusal.”

Campaign group Stop350 and residents have been fighting against the plans.

A letter signed by 58 residents described the situation as a “kick in the teeth”.

It said: “It is the most significant planning application here in a generation and if approved will open the door to developers making multiple applications.

“What is the point of a local plan if this is the process to be followed.

“Why are developers given so much attention and residents pushed aside?

“Let Mersea residents put their case to a local plan inspector. That is all residents ask.

“We believe we have an excellent case and are willing to be tested by an independent inspector.”

If plans are approved, the development would include two, three and four-bedroom homes with potential for bungalows and retirement flats.

The developer will also be required to make a number of contributions to infrastructure on the island including money for parks and recreation, towards health care and historical finds.