BRAINTREE’S nature-filled Flitch Way should not be surrounded by 1,600 homes, according to Braintree Council officers.

Four sites between Rayne and Braintree were put forward for 1,600 homes, a primary school and employment land for the draft Local Plan.

Campaigners, including the No To Brook Green protest group, was set up by residents who said the homes would link Braintree and Rayne and have an impact on the Flitch Way.

Planning officers said in a report: “The Flitch Way is identified as a Local Wildlife site and as an accessible natural green space.

“Development around the Flitch Way would likely have a significant impact on its character and appearance.”

Two other sites included in the proposal may also be refused recommendation as they include listed buildings.

Planning officers stated: “A listed building and archaeological site is present adjacent this area at Naylinghurst.

“The site has a number of positive benefits in terms of its location, proximity to employment and services, and the A120, however it is a greenfield site with a low landscape capacity for development.”

Separately, Acorn Property Group has applied for outline planning permission to build 1,600 homes on the site.

This bid is still being considered by planning officers.

Campaigners have held protest marches along the Flitch Way and marched to Braintree Town Hall to hand over a petition to Braintree Council.

Emma Wood, of No to Brook Green, said: “We are very grateful the council have listened carefully to the hundreds of planning objections and planning officers have concluded this land is unsuitable for development.

“It’s not the end of the fight but it’s a helpful indication and we will continue opposing it until permission has been refused. It’s a good sign and gives us hope.”

No-one from Acorn was available for comment.