CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 100 new homes in West Mersea have been approved after a crunch vote in the town hall.

City & Country’s proposals to build 100 homes on land off Brierley Paddocks were narrowly approved at a meeting of Colchester Council’s planning committee.

Late last year councillors had moved to defer a decision on the plans for six months while the Local Plan examination was ongoing.

However the developer warned the authority it was considering an appeal on the grounds of non-determination.

The proposals drew unprecedented opposition from residents and ward councillor John Jowers (Con, Mersea and Pyefleet) said it was “morally wrong” to ignore the strength of opposition.

“Why are we being bounced into making a decision before the results of the examination in public have come through,” he said.

“I wonder what an inspector would make of this and I would like it to be put to the test.”

But councillors voted by five to four to approve the development.

Following the decision, a spokesman for campaign group Stop350 said it was “extremely disappointed but not surprised”.

“Residents have provided more than 1,400 objections which were not brought before the committee and neither have they been heard by the inspector,” he said.

“The decision was contrary to legal advice we obtained and all aspects of this are being studied.

“This decision makes it much more important development creep is opposed and Stop350 will be there doing this at the Local Plan inspections, when they eventually happen, and when other developments are proposed.

“We wish to thank residents for their support, particularly in recent weeks.”

A spokesman for City and Country welcomed the decision.

He said: “We are pleased with Colchester Council’s decision to approve our plans for new homes and community facilities at Brierley Paddocks. Being Essex-based, projects like these are close to our hearts, and we look forward to working with the council to help deliver new homes, including 30 per cent affordable housing on site.

“There’s been a great level of interest and we are keen to work with the community, with our scheme providing contributions to support the improvements of facilities at Glebe Sports Ground and Mersea Island’s medical facilities.

"Detailed proposals on what’s to come will be shared in the coming months and we anticipate that work will begin on site later this year.”