AN appeal against a decision to reject planning permission for 300 new homes began today.

Gladman Developments are appealing Braintree District Council’s decision to deny it permission to build 300 homes on land off Church Street, Bocking.

The developers hope to convince government inspector Zoe Hill the homes should be built.

Gladman requested that another appeal against the decision to deny 265 new homes on the same site, except on one field to the southeast, also be considered.

A number of visits to the area will take place in the coming days as part of the inquiry which is expected to take up to six days.

The main issue in the case is the argument over the impact on the landscape and coalescence of Bocking and High Garrett with more than 600 objections being sent to the council from residents.

Concerns surrounding flooding, traffic and affordable housing led to the application being refused as well as the issue of the impact on landscape and the coalescence of Church Street and High Garrett.

Speaking outside the appeal hall, Terry Surrey, chairman of the Bocking and High Garrett Action Group (BHGAG), said: “There’s a very strong feeling about this from a lot of residents.

“We don’t want to see the two settlements become one because it will mean a loss of identity - they are two very historical areas.”

Today, on the opening day of the appeal, Jonathan Easton, the solicitor representing appellants Gladman, described the landscape and coalescence issue as “rambling and wide-ranging.”

Mr Easton said: “The green buffer is a reactive designation to keep two parts of Braintree, which have no such recognition, separate.

“We have found no supporting documents or study supports the buffer.

“The area is nothing more than mere countryside.”

Gill Wynne-Williams, a landscape architect witness for the Rule 6 party, said the building should not take place and the area should be considered a rarity.

She warned the character of the landscape would be lost if the development went ahead.

Mrs Williams explained: “There has been a nibbling away at the the countryside over a number of years and I believe it should be considered an area of rarity as a result of that.”

One Church Street resident, who did not wish to be named, attended the appeal and said he was not convinced by the view that traffic was no longer a concern.

He explained: “I don’t have an issue with the houses being built but I do have an issue with where they want to build them.

“It’s the issue of the infrastructure, they’re going to be built in the wrong place.

“Where will the kids go to school and how many extra cars are going to be on the roads?”

The inquiry is being held at Howard Hall in Bocking End, Braintree and proceedings for the second day, Wednesday, June 13, are expected to begin at 9am.