OPPONENTS of a plan to build 1,600 new homes between Braintree and Rayne held a protest march through the town.

The 35-strong group started from the former Morrisons store on Rayne Road on Friday afternoon and made their way to Bank Street and then the High Street.

They handed out flyers against the scheme- named Brook Green by developers- and spoke to shoppers.

They then marched down to Braintree Council’s offices in Bocking End where they delivered a 2,000 name petition.

Organiser Emma Wood said: “We have found the biggest problem is that while the developer has complied with all his legal obligations the awareness of it is really, really, poor.

“If people don’t know about it then they can’t engage with it. We just want to raise awareness.”

Mrs Wood said the group had received a positive public reaction, although they were barred from marching through George Yard Shopping Centre.

She said: “We have spent time in the Flitch Way as well, just telling people that it exists.

“85 per cent of people don’t know about it.”

The group also held a public meeting at Rayne Village Hall the last week, attended by council leader Graham Butland and Braintree MP James Cleverly.

Mr Butland told the meeting that he was personally opposed to the plans and later tweeted: “Excellent example of how to plan a campaign based on sound evidence and not emotion.”

The development would be made up of three parcels of land- one to the north and one to the south of the Flitch Way, and a third to the east of Pod’s Brook Road.

The northern and southern parts of the site would be linked by passageways underneath the Flitch Way.

However, opponents say the plans would destroy the countryside walk that links Braintree and Rayne and turn it into a mere footpath through a council estate.

Developers say the project will be built in six stages, with the school, a local centre for employment use and bus stops built in the first stage.

A “green buffer” between the development and Rayne will include a football pitch, a childrens’ play area and a building for community use.

Developer Wayne Gold, of the Acorn Property Group, said he was aware of the opposition to the plans.

He said: “I don’t really want to comment. We have made our position quite clear.”