CAMPAIGNERS have contacted the local government watchdog after controversial plans to build 100 new homes on West Mersea were approved by the planning committee.

Mersea Homes’ bid to build the properties off Dawes Lane was narrowly approved by Colchester Council’s planning committee at a heated meeting.

Four councillors voted in favour of approving the scheme, two against and three abstained during the vote.

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The decision to approve the plans has been criticised by campaign group Stop350, which has more than 1,200 members and campaigns against the over-development of Mersea Island.

Group spokesman John Akker said it has contacted the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman over the way the unpopular plans were handled by Colchester Council.

He said: “The decision is perverse. It even goes against what most of the committee said.

“Many on Mersea will say the borough councillors in Colchester do not understand the pressures Mersea is under.

“Health services cannot cope with residents the island already has, yet alone with the large number of visitors which are coming. They are out of touch.”

He added: “Stop350 is in touch with the Ombudsman about the way the application was considered.”

Mersea Homes says the development will provide 12 acres of public land for community uses and public open space and says some of the land could house a new medical centre if required.

But the controversial plans still drew hundreds of objections from concerned residents and was objected to at the meeting by ward councillors John Jowers and Robert Davidson.

The Dawes Lane application is one of three major new housing estates planned for the island.

City & Country’s bid to build 100 new homes on land at Brierley Paddocks has already been approved and Gladman Developments is seeking permission to build another 99 homes off Colchester Road.

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Mr Akker continued: “We say residents are very clear they will fight any new plans.

“Residents are very angry the borough has decided the Dawes Lane and Brierley Paddocks developments without putting their case to an independent Local Plan Inspector.”

Colchester Council declined to comment when contacted by The Gazette.